OSHA recently cited two Midwest employers after workers were seriously injured in separate accidents involving powered industrial trucks, commonly known as forklifts.

In one case, a 30-year-old employee suffered a leg amputation and crushed pelvis at a Chicago shipping facility when he fell off an industrial truck vehicle being used to move and stack steel containers.

In the other case, a 60-year-old employee was struck by one of the vehicles in a Wisconsin food processing plant where vegetables are canned as she walked toward a pallet to label products for shipping.

Both instances highlight the importance of proper training, said Phillip Montgomery, CBIA’s director of compensation and benefit services.

“It underlines the need for companies to be more proactive in their training efforts in this area and shows why CBIA has encouraged employees to be vigilant in the forklift training offered,” Montgomery said.

Training Issues

The worker whose leg was amputated was working at ITS Technologies and Logistics LLC, operating as ITS Conglobal.

OSHA cited the Chicago company, an intermodal cargo container shipping facility, for one willful violation, two serious violations, and proposed $156,038 in penalties.

The investigation found that ITS Conglobal allowed employees to ride unsecured on the forklift’s reach stacker in violation of company and OSHA safety standards.

In addition, ITS Conglobal failed to provide employees with refresher training or evaluate their ability to safely operate powered industrial vehicles every three years, as required.

“This worker’s life-altering injuries could have been prevented if ITS Conglobal had followed its own and federal safety regulations against employees riding improperly on moving powered industrial vehicles.” said James Martineck, OSHA’s Chicago Area South director.

“Each year, hundreds of employees suffer injuries from powered industrial vehicle hazards and it remains one of OSHA’s top 10 cited safety standards. Employers must review and enforce workplace safety procedures.”

Penalties

In the Wisconsin case, OSHA proposed $177,490 in penalties against Seneca Foods, a New York-based company that is one of North America’s leading providers of packaged fruits and vegetables.

OSHA accused Seneca Foods of two repeat and three serious safety violations involving forklift training and machine safety procedures.

In its November 2020 inspection, OSHA also found that another employee had fractured a finger when it was caught in machinery that the company failed to lockout to prevent unintentional movement, as required by law.

OSHA cited Seneca Foods for similar violations in 2019 at another Wisconsin facility.

“Employers are responsible for ensuring forklift drivers are re-trained after being involved in an accident or near miss,” said Robert Bonack, OSHA Area Director Appleton, Wisconsin.

“OSHA has specific regulations for disabling machines and equipment prior to maintenance and service. Injuries can be prevented by ensuring employees receive required training and follow safety procedures.”

Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery (860.244.1982).