Forklift Fatality Brings $119,500 in Fines, Citations

Yesterday, OSHA proposed a total of $119,500 in fines against Con-Way Freight Inc., an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based delivery carrier, for alleged willful, repeat, and serious safety violations following an inspection at the company's Manchester, N.H., service center.

The inspection was prompted by an Oct. 3, 2007, accident in which a Con-Way Freight employee died when he was crushed beneath the forklift he was operating after it went off the edge of a loading dock. OSHA's inspection found that the employee had not been using the forklift's seatbelt, and the company had not trained him and other forklift operators to follow the manufacturer's guideline that seatbelts be used during operation.

"Manufacturer guidelines require the use of seatbelts, and OSHA's powered industrial truck standard mandates that employers train their forklift operators to follow those guidelines," said Francis Pagliuca, OSHA's acting area director for New Hampshire. "Con-Way Freight repeatedly has refused to require forklift operators to use seatbelts even though another employee died in a similar accident in Dallas in 2003. This practice must change, or employees nationwide continually will remain exposed to the dangers of fatal or disabling injuries."

For the lack of training, OSHA issued Con-Way Freight one willful citation, with the maximum proposed fine of $70,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. The company also was issued one repeat citation, with a $35,000 fine, for allowing the forklift to be operated in a defective condition. OSHA cited the company's Bridgeview, Ill., facility for a similar hazard in May 2007.

In addition, OSHA issued three serious citations, with $14,500 in fines, for the lack of seatbelt use, not having the forklift maintain a safe distance from the edges of the loading dock, and not marking aisles and passageways for forklift use. OSHA defines a serious violation as a condition that exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result.

Detailed information about OSHA's powered industrial truck requirements is available online at www.osha.gov/SLTC/poweredindustrialtrucks/index.html. Con-Way Freight has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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