Marina & Boat Manufacturer Forklift Safety

forkliftAs marine business insurance specialists one challenge we see for marina and boat manufacturers is fork lift operators with inadequate training. Often on the job training results in the sharing of unsafe practices and inadequate safety measures. The results can be catastrophic when operators make a mistake while stacking boats on racks sometimes several stories high.

Most people see the value in having drivers tested before they are allowed to operate cars or trucks. As specialists who offer marina and boat manufacturer insurance, we like to caution owners and managers to invest in forklift training for staff who work with or near them.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nearly 100 workers are killed annually in forklift accidents. Another 20,000 are seriously injured each year. Those of us in the marina insurance industry know how often marina workers and boat manufacturers use forklifts to move materials or boats.

In one quarter of fatal accidents, an overturning device was considered the cause of death. The next most common causes of fatalities include hitting a nearby worker on foot, a worker being crushed, or a worker falling from a forklift.

Both the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and NIOSH recommend that any employees at a plant, marina, boat manufacturer, or elsewhere complete operator training and licensing before working with any form of powered industrial truck or forklift.

OSHA’s Final Rule for Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training, which came into effect March 1, 1999, requires:

  • Operator training and licensing.
  • Periodic evaluations of operator performance.
  • Mandatory refresher training if an operator is observed operating in an unsafe way, is involved in an accident or near-accident, or is assigned to a new model.
  • Standards for operation, loading, seat belts, overhead protective structures, alarms, and maintenance of forklifts.

Accidents happen despite the efforts of OSHA and NIOSH to educate employers. As marina insurance specialists, we encourage everyone to promote safety through proper training and maintenance.

Sadly, industrial fatalities involving forklifts continue. In the fall of 2013, a worker at the Blue Pelican Marina near Tampa Bay, Florida lost both legs when a forklift rolled over on him. The driver and his son were using a 20,000-pound forklift for an installation when the machine began to tip, and the driver was said to have jumped. The vehicle rolled, pinned the man to a fence, and severed his legs.

Witnesses and investigators say that the accident may have been preventable. Proper forklift training dictates that it is unsafe to leap from a tipping vehicle. The driver should have remained seated and braced himself since the majority of traumatic and fatal incidents involve crushing when a machine tips. Furthermore, evidence shows the machine was being driven parallel to the dock’s slope. It is never advisable to drive a forklift across an incline.

As your marina and boat manufacturer insurance specialists, we stress the importance of proper forklift training to prevent loss of limbs and fatalities. If you have any concerns about your coverage in the event of such an accident, please contact the marine insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to review your policies.

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