A forklift maintenance procedure at a Kansas drywall contractor turned tragic when a hydraulic cylinder in the process of being swapped out fatally crushed an employee. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued a press release announcing that it had cited the company for seven serious safety violations, with proposed penalties totaling $77,604. According to news reports, the worker was 18 years old, and had been employed with the company for only three months. OSHA’s investigation showed that the company was replacing one of two boom hoist cylinders on a Lull Highlander (Model 1044C-54), a large vehicle with forks at the end of a boom. The purpose of these hydraulic cylinders is to raise and lower the boom. Based on OSHA’s citations, it appears that the company attached eight-foot slings to a standard mast-type forklift to cradle the load while each cylinder was being replaced on the big boom of the Lull Highlander. It worked okay on July 27, 2018, when they replaced the right cylinder, but disaster struck on August 3, 2018, when they tried to replace the left cylinder. Somehow the cylinder came loose and fell on top of the employee. It is unclear what the employee’s role was, but OSHA cited the company for failing to have a proper hazardous energy control procedure for its mobile equipment. OSHA also found that the company hadn’t ensured that each forklift operator had successfully completed both formal and practical powered industrial truck training before operating the forklifts.
Tips: Hazardous energy control (lockout-tagout) is absolutely critical to fully address in your safety program, and is one of the most commonly cited workplace safety violations. You should have equipment-specific procedures, including for mobile equipment, to prevent injury due to the unexpected release of electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other energy. Employers must train employees on hazardous energy control, enforce procedures, and self-audit regularly. To comply with OSHA forklift training requirements, you must address: (1) truck-related topics; (2) workplace-related safety topics; and (3) driver evaluation. Additionally, as a best practice we recommend covering material handling requirements and pedestrian awareness for forklift drivers. For advice on hazardous energy control or to schedule a “Forklift Train the Trainer” course, Vigilant members and Washington retro program participants can contact their assigned safety professional.