A company owner called CHESS for help with safety for her manufacturing facility. The company had employees assigned to safety, but never had anyone with specific expertise in safety. She thought that overall they were doing a good job when it came to safety, but wanted additional reassurance. In order to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, and to really get to know the company, CHESS started with a compliance audit, looking at written programs, training records, and conducting an in-depth on-site inspection.. We found that they were trying hard to do things right, but there were many opportunities for improvement: their safety program had no focus, their safety committee was inactive, and equipment damage, particularly from forklifts, occurred often.
First, we reinstated the safety committee, helping them develop a mission and specific goals for the coming year. Within the safety committee, mishaps and near incidents were discussed. The company (actually, the safety committee), with CHESS’s assistance, started carefully tracking all forklift incidents. The requirements for being an authorized forklift operator were reviewed. Managers responsible for forklift training decided they should go through refresher train-the-trainer training. After doing so, they started retraining more employees and providing targeted training after any incident.
This tracking of incidents also led to an evaluation of all forklift traffic. The company designated some areas as no forklift zones and removed driving privileges from a few employees. They significantly reduced forklift traffic in the plant. They looked at where other equipment, such as pallet jacks, could be used. After having about 20 forklift incidents in just one year, the company was able to change its safety culture so it had only a couple of forklift incidents the following year. They’ve continued to improve.
That’s not the only guidance we’ve provided for forklift users. Because LP-powered forklifts can emit carbon monoxide (CO) and because repeated exposure can cause heart damage, quarterly monitoring of CO levels is needed. One client thought they were doing that monitoring – but the method they chose wouldn’t show if carbon monoxide was present until the gas reached immediately dangerous concentrations. CHESS provided the client with several options for more effective methods. When they chose a direct-reading meter, CHESS provided training on its use and provided them with a form to use to document the readings.