Category: Equipment and Vehicles

Spotting Safety: Earthmoving Equipment Training



Although it’s impossible to discern exactly what led to this overturned skid steer, an experienced operator can tell you that it can be easy to upset earthmoving equipment like this. Because of the weighted back end, if you go too fast uphill or backwards downhill, and have the bucket lifted high enough to raise the center of gravity, you can pop a wheelie or roll completely over which makes having a proper earthmoving safety training kit important.

A correctly trained operator should know this.

OSHA forklift regulations explain the training required in 1910.178(l). It’s up to the employer to ensure their operators have successfully completed a training program under an instructor who has the knowledge, training, and experience to teach and evaluate the operator. Training should include formal instruction, practical training, and performance evaluations.

Truck related topics include: operating instructions, warnings, precautions, differences between the truck and an automobile, controls and instrumentation, engine operation, steering and maneuvering, visibility, attachment operation, vehicle capacity and stability, inspections and maintenance, refueling/recharging, and operating limitations.

Other applicable OHSA regulations include:

  • The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury. 1926.21(b)(2)
  • The employer shall permit only those employees qualified by training or experience to operate equipment or machinery. 1926.20(b)(4)

Because this vehicle moves earth, it isn’t automatically regulated under the General Industry Powered Industrial Trucks regulation 1910.178 (forklifts), but instead fits under 1926.602 for Construction Material Handling Equipment. And there, operator training requirements are identical to the PIT training requirements — 1926.602(d).

All Spotting Safety Articles:

  • Excavation Cave-ins
  • Scaffolding Footing
  • Scaffolding Toprails
  • Earthmoving Equipment Training
  • Self Supporting Ladders
  • Forklift Counterweighting
  • Power Tool Trigger Guards


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Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on today’s roadways. In 2012, a total of 3,328 people were killed in distracted-driving crashes. So far this year alone in the U.S., there have been more than 276,000 crashes involving drivers who were using cell phones or texting. While cell-phone use is one of the major causes, it’s not alone. Whether it’s a cell phone, music player, or reprogramming a GPS, using any electronic mobile device when driving leads to distracted driving.

It’s estimated that texting while driving (TWD) accounts for 12 percent of fatal driving distractions. Studies show that drivers who send or receive text messages focus their attention away from the road for almost five seconds. At sixty mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field with you eyes closed.

More and more drivers are using GPS systems to navigate while driving. While many newer cars offer factory installed voice-activated GPS systems, the use of handheld GPS devices or GPS on cell phones is common. While GPS is intended to help drivers avoid getting lost and reach their destination more efficiently, the use of GPS leads to distracted driving. GPS systems can take a driver’s focus off of the road. What’s worse is that many drivers attempt to program their GPS while driving, which is just as bad as sending a text message or reading an email while driving.

In an effort to stem this growing tide of accidents and injuries, many states and federal agencies have implemented regulations banning the use of these devices while driving. Both employers and workers alike need to be aware of these laws and the consequences associated with them.

Federal Rules

Both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) agencies of the Department of Transportation (DOT) have passed a joint rule that prohibits commercial drivers from using handheld mobile phones while operating commercial trucks or buses. The ban includes texting and handheld device dialing and conversation.

Federal civil penalties include:

  • A $2,750 fine for each offense
  • Loss of commercial drivers licenses for multiple offenses
  • A maximum penalty of $11,000 for commercial truck and bus companies that allow their drivers to use handheld cell phones while driving.

Plus, states can suspend a commercial driver’s license after two or more serious traffic violations. This rule applies to about four million commercial drivers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a recommendation that employers should prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. Failure to do so puts the employers at risk of violating OSHA section 1970.17. Employers violate this section of the Act if they require their employees to text while driving or organize work so that texting is a practical necessity even if not a formal requirement. Workers may file a confidential complaint with OSHA.

 State Laws

State legislatures have also responded by passing laws at a rapid pace.

As of March 2012:

  • 43 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for all drivers
  • 12 states and the District of Columbia have made talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving illegal
  • Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws limiting the use of cell phones by bus, school bus, or transit drivers.

Building a workplace culture of safety requires clearly defined policies and procedures. It’s important for your workers and supervisors to understand that your company does not require or condone texting while driving.

Employers should develop a clear policy regarding the use of mobile electronic devices by:

  • Defining company vehicles are “text-free zones”
  • Establishing work procedures and rules that eliminate the need for workers to text while driving
  • Setting up clear procedures, times, and places for drivers to safely text and use other technologies to communicate
  • Incorporating safe communications practices into worker orientation and training
  • Eliminating financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving

If your company doesn’t have a distracted driving policy, contact us about creating one.

Spotting Safety: Forklift Counterweighting

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Spotting Safety Forklift Counterweighting blog photo 3.31.14 JA

We can see the significant load is so large that the center of gravity is so far away from the forklift.

Because the load is too much for this forklift the operator has compensated by adding extra weights to the back of the forklift, offsetting them to counterbalance the load and move the truck’s center of gravity backward.

But the extra weights are unsecured, creating a precarious situation if the truck has to go up or down hill, the load has to be lifted, or something fails on the truck. In that case, the extra weights jutting out from the back of the forklift could come crashing down, striking everything and everyone in their path.

Lifting a load that requires such extreme counterweighting measures also means the load may exceed the limits the forklift is built to handle.

OSHA requires forklifts to not be overloaded, and every operator knows the stated capacity and does not exceed it – 1910.178(o)(2).

Also, additional counterweighting of fork trucks needs the truck manufacturer’s approval – 1910.178(g)(6).

So, not only is this operator breaking regulations, he is compromising the safety of himself and his co-workers. Never perform an operation like the one shown in the photo.

All Spotting Safety Articles:

  • Excavation Cave-ins
  • Scaffolding Footing
  • Scaffolding Toprails
  • Earthmoving Equipment Training
  • Self Supporting Ladders
  • Forklift Counterweighting
  • Power Tool Trigger Guards

Spotting Safety: Power Tool Trigger Guards

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I hope you’ve never seen this before: a zip lock used to lock down a trigger, either replacing a missing one or on a tool that was never meant to have a trigger lock.

Sure several hours of holding that trigger down while grinding away at a big job can be tiring, but this is not the answer for obvious reasons. Just lose your focus for a second on your grip and you have a dangerous power tool running without anybody controlling it. Or maybe you leave this tool plugged in when the power is out, and can come to life when power is supplied.

In short, only use trigger locks that are part of the power tool that are supposed to be there, and ensure they are used correctly. OSHA recommends constant control switches that have to be held down for the tool to operate, as the preferred device. OSHA is also specific about which tools can have an “on-off” control switch, a constant pressure switch or a “lock-on” control switch.

Tools may only be equipped with trigger locks if they can also be shut off in a single motion using the same finger or fingers. This zip lock clearly does not meet that requirement.

Also some hand-held power tools – circular saws, chain saws, and some percussion tools that don’t have actively locked accessories – can only have a constant pressure switch.

All Spotting Safety Articles:

  • Excavation Cave-ins
  • Scaffolding Footing
  • Scaffolding Toprails
  • Earthmoving Equipment Training
  • Self Supporting Ladders
  • Forklift Counterweighting
  • Power Tool Trigger Guards

NHTSA Requiring Seat Belts on Motorcoaches

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today issued a final rule requiring lap and shoulder seat belts for each passenger and driver seat on new motorcoaches and other large buses. This new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries in frontal crashes and the risk of occupant ejection in rollovers.

“Safety is our highest priority and we are committed to reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roadways,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s rule is a significant step forward in our efforts to improve motorcoach safety.”

On average, 21 motorcoach and large bus occupants are killed and 7,934 are injured annually in motor vehicle crashes, according to NHTSA data. Requiring seat belts could reduce fatalities by up to 44 percent and reduce the number of moderate to severe injuries by up to 45 percent.

“While travel on motorcoaches is overall a safe form of transportation, when accidents do occur, there is the potential for a greater number of deaths and serious injuries due to the number of occupants and high speeds at which the vehicles are traveling,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Adding seat belts to motorcoaches increases safety for all passengers and drivers, especially in the event of a rollover crash.”

“Buckling up is the most effective way to prevent deaths and injuries in all vehicular crashes, including motorcoaches,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Requiring seat belts in new models is another strong step we are taking to reach an even higher level of safety for bus passengers.”

The final rule, which amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, applies to new over-the-road buses and to other types of new buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 pounds), except transit buses and school buses. This final rule fulfills a mandate from the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). Beginning in November 2016, newly manufactured buses will be required to be equipped with lap and shoulder belts for each driver and passenger seat.

Several companies have already begun voluntarily purchasing buses that include seat belts and the Department will continue encouraging the industry to speed the adoption of lap and shoulder seat belts prior to the mandatory deadline. In addition, the Department will continue moving forward with other initiatives to improve motorcoach safety as outlined in the Motorcoach Safety Action Plan.

OSHA Sponsors Highway Work Zone Awareness Stand Down

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In recognition of National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week the federal Department of Occupational Health and Safety, construction contractors, the Federal Highway Administration, the state of Georgia, and local government organizations are sponsoring a series of one-hour stand downs at construction sites around Georgia.

The safety stand downs will occur each day from 7am to 8am the week of April 15-19.

During the stand-down workers will be educated on work-zone safety topics, such as struck-by accidents, texting while driving and distracted driving.

To help educate workers the Associated General Contractors of Georgia is offering companies materials to use to train employees during the stand down. To access these materials click here.

“Alliance members have demonstrated initiative and leadership organizing this industry-wide safety stand-down throughout Georgia to emphasize the importance of work zone safety. The stand-down will heighten construction workers’ awareness of and ability to identify and help employers eliminate work-related hazards,” said Teresa Harrison, OSHA’s acting regional administrator for the Southeast.

To further protect the safety of roadside workers, EMS personal, fire fighters and others pulled over to the side of the road Georgia has adopted the Spence Pass Law.

This law requires drivers to change lanes or slow down below the posted speed limit when they are in a lane adjacent to a stationary vehicle flashing emergency lights.

Illinois adds to ban on driving and cellphone usage

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Illinois enacted two pieces of legislation on January, 1 2013 to reduce distractions caused by cellphone use while driving.

This legislation “represents another important step in our efforts to combat distracted driving,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who proposed the legislation. “No driver has any business text messaging while they are driving, especially someone operating a commercial motor vehicle.

House Bill 5101 prohibits texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle. If a person is caught doing so they face a citation for a serious traffic violation. Previously, Illinois law prohibited texting while driving for all vehicles, but cell phones were permitted.

A commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle used in commerce with a weight of 26001 lbs or more (or a lesser weight if determined by the federal government or Secretary of State) or a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people, or a vehicle transporting hazardous materials. Exceptions are RVs for personal use, military vehicles, fire trucks, police vehicles and other emergency response vehicles.

“There’s not a big difference between whether you’re holding a phone or whether you’re not holding a phone,” State Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told reporters. “It’s the distraction in talking to someone that’s not in the car with you. It’s not what’s in your hand, it’s what’s in your head.”

Senate Bill 2488 prohibits cell phone use in construction or maintenance speed zones regardless of the speed limit in those zones. Motorists can use cell phones in voice-operated mode, which includes the use of a headset or cell phones used with single button activation.

Prior to the passage of this law, the speed limit in a work zone had to be lower than the posted speed limit, or it was not actually considered a work zone by the definition in statute and the higher ticket did not apply. Voice activated use of cell phone was permitted prior to this change.

“People are tragically injured and killed in work zones and by commercial motor vehicles due to distracted driving. Cell phone distractions have been proven to be as dangerous as drinking and driving,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “These laws will stiffen distracted driving laws and save lives.”

To help employers maintain driver safety we offer fleet management programs, driver safety training and safe driver policies. For more information call 877-780-4106.

Injury & Illness Prevention Program Highlights OSHA’s 2013 Priorities

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The implementation of a new standard requiring employers to adopt and Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) highlights OSHA’s 2013 regulatory agenda.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires federal agencies to publish lists of pending regulatory actions twice a year – spring and fall. However, the White House never released the spring 2012 agenda and did not release the fall agenda until late December.

Here is a brief look at the most pertinent agenda items.

I2P2: The proposed rule will require employers to develop and implement an injury and illness prevention program, including a systematic process to proactively and continuously address workplace safety and health hazards. This rule will involve planning, implementing, evaluating, and improving processes and activities that promote worker safety and health hazards. OSHA has substantial evidence showing that employers that have implemented similar injury and illness prevention programs have significantly reduced injuries and illnesses in their workplaces.

Infectious Diseases OSHA is considering the need for regulatory action to address the risk to workers exposed to infectious diseases in healthcare and other related high-risk environments. This would look at all routes of infection not currently covered by the bloodborne pathogen standard.

Modernizing Recordkeeping: Under the proposed rule, OSHA will explore requiring employers to electronically submit to the Agency data required by part 1904 (Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries).

Silica: In order to target one of the most serious hazards workers face, OSHA is proposing to address worker exposures to crystalline silica through the promulgation and enforcement of a comprehensive standard.

Backover Injuries and Fatalities: OSHA may consider implementing a rule requiring the usage of proximity detection systems. These type of systems help alert a driver, when a person is behind their vehicle.

Reinforced Concrete in Construction: OSHA is seeking more information to potential create further safety regulation regarding reinforcing steel and post-tensioning activities.

Bloodborne Pathogens: OSHA is scheduled to review the regulation to determine the continued need for the regulation.

Updating OSHA Standards- This project is part of a multi-year project to update OSHA standards that are based on consensus standards. Under section 6(a) of the OSH Act, during the first 2 years of the Act, the Agency was directed to adopt national consensus standards as OSHA standards. However, OSHA has not updated most of these standard in the 40 year since to reflect later editions of the consensus standards.

Confined Spaces in Construction: OSHA is scheduled to adopt a confined spaces in construction regulation.

View the entire agenda here.

OSHA announces stakeholder meetings to discuss prevention of backover injuries

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday that they have scheduled meetings to discuss backover injury prevention. The five informal meetings will occur in two rounds. The first will take place Jan. 8-9, 2013, in Washington D.C., and the second, Feb. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas.

Backover injuries were responsible for 79 worker deaths in 2011, primarily in the construction industry.

There are currently only a handful of OSHA regulations aimed specifically at preventing backover injury and death. The construction standards call for either backup alarms or spotters for backing vehicles with obstructed rear views — 29 CFR § 1926.601(b)(4) for motor vehicles and § 1926.602(a)(9)(ii) covering material handling equipment — and general industry standards for power generation, transmission, and distribution— § 1910.269(p)(1)(ii) — call for similar protections.

However, two states, Washington and Virginia have more stringent requirements that call for either spotters or backup cameras for certain vehicles. Further, there are a range of technologies and systems that can reduce the risk of harm from backover deaths, including blind spot diagrams, proximity sensors and internal traffic control plans.

The aim of the meetings is to provide OSHA with information to help them “evaluate backover risks across various industries, whether or how backovers may be prevented by new technology or other methods, and how effective those measures are.”

Attendees can register as either participants or observers, but are requested to register as participants for only one session.

The meetings come after a March 29, 2012, request for information, which included a request for information about safety in concrete reinforcing work, and could be among the first steps to the proposal of new rules in the area of backover prevention.

Clarifying OSHA’s New Scaffolding Regulation



Created in 1971, the scaffolding general requirement regulation is one of OSHA’s original standards. Despite the age of this piece of legislation regulating public safety, the standard remains among the most cited standards at American workplaces.

Recently, the standard was the third most violated, carrying an average proposed fine of more than $1,000.

The general requirement section of the scaffolding standard is broken into the sections of capacity, platform construction, supported scaffold criteria, suspended scaffold criteria, access requirements, fall protection and use.

Below, we take a closer look at each section.

What is the Maximum Weight Load for a Single-Point Adjustable Scaffold?

  • Each scaffold and scaffold component must support its own weight and at least four times the maximum intended load
  • Scaffolds and scaffold components must not be loaded in excess of their maximum intended loads or rated capacities, whichever is less.
  • A qualified person must design the scaffolds.
  • Load carrying timber members must be a minimum of 1,500 lb-f/in2 construction grade lumber.

Platform Construction & Safety

This section covers the requirements for the construction of platform construction and safety when on platforms.

The most prominent requirements of this section are as follows:

  • Each platform must be planked and decked as fully as possible with the space between the platform and uprights not more than 1 inch wide. The space must not exceed 9 inches  when side brackets or odd-shaped structures result in a wider opening between the platform and the uprights.
  • Scaffold planking must be able to support its own weight and at least four times the intended load.
  • Manufacturer recommended solid sawn wood, fabricated planks, and fabricated platforms may be used as scaffold planks.
  • Platforms must not deflect more than 1/60 of the span when loaded
  • Scaffold platforms and walkways must be at least 18 inches wide. When the work area is less than 18 inches wide, guardrails and/or personal fall arrest systems must be used
  • Guardrails must be installed along all open sides and ends before allowing employees to use the scaffold. These rails are not required for erection and dismantling crews, when the front end of all platforms are less than 14 inches from the face of the work, when outrigger scaffolds are 3 inches or less from the front edge or when employees are plastering and lathing 18 inches or less from the front edge.
  • Do not use steel or plastic banding as a toprail or a midrail.
  • Platforms must be free of clutter and debris.
  • If workers are higher than 10 feet from the next lower level they must be protected from falls.

Supported Scaffold Criteria

This section details the criteria for supported scaffolding. The following are the requirements under the section:

  • Structural members, poles, legs, posts, frames, and uprights, must be plumb and braced to prevent swaying and displacement.
  • Supported scaffolds with a height to base width ratio of more than 4:1 must be restrained by guying, tying, bracing, or an equivalent means.
  • Either the manufacturers’ recommendation or the following placements must be used for guys, ties, and braces. Install guys, ties, or braces at the closest horizontal member to the 4:1 height and repeat vertically with the top restraint no further than the 4:1 height from the top.  Vertically — every 20 feet (6.1 meters) or less for scaffolds less than three feet (0.91 meters) wide; every 26 feet (7.9 meters) or less for scaffolds more than three feet (0.91 meters) wide. Horizontally — at each end; at intervals not to exceed 30 feet (9.1 meters) from one end.
  • Supported scaffolds’ poles, legs, posts, frames, and uprights must bear on base plates and mud sills, or other adequate firm foundation.
  • Forklifts can support platforms only when the entire platform is attached to the fork and the forklift does not move horizontally when workers are on the platform.
  • Front-end loaders and similar equipment can support scaffold platforms only when they have been specifically designed by the manufacturer for such use.
  • Stilts may be used on a large area scaffold. When a guardrail system is used, the guardrail height must be increased in height equal to the height of the stilts. The manufacturer must approve any alterations to the stilts.

Suspended Scaffold Criteria

  • Employers must ensure that all employees are trained to recognize the hazards associated with the type of scaffold being used.
  • All support devices must rest on surfaces capable of supporting at least four times the load imposed on them by the scaffold when operating at the rated load of the hoist, or at least one-and-a-half times the load imposed on them by the scaffold at the stall capacity of the hoist, whichever is greater.
  • A competent person must evaluate all direct connections prior to use to confirm that the supporting surfaces are able to support the imposed load.
  • All suspension scaffolds must be tied or otherwise secured to prevent them from swaying, as determined by a competent person.
  • Guardrails, a personal fall arrest system, or both must protect each employee more than 10 feet (3.1 meters) above a lower level from falling.
  • When scaffold platforms are more than 24 inches (61 centimeters) above or below a point of access, ladders, ramps, walkways, or similar surfaces must be used.
  • When using direct access, the surface must not be more than 24 inches (61 centimeters) above or 14 inches (36 cm) horizontally from the surface.
  • A competent person must inspect ropes for defects prior to each workshift and after every occurrence that could affect a rope’s integrity.
  • A competent person must inspect ropes for defects prior to each workshift and after every occurrence that could affect a rope’s integrity.
  • When lanyards are connected to horizontal lifelines or structural members on single-point or two-point adjustable scaffolds, the scaffold must have additional independent support lines equal in number and strength to the suspension lines and have automatic locking devices.
  • Emergency escape and rescue devices must not be used as working platforms, unless designed to function as suspension scaffolds and emergency systems.

Access Requirements

Under this section employers are required to provide access when the scaffold platforms are more than 2 feet (0.6 meters) above or below a point of access. Direct access is acceptable when the scaffold is not more than 14 inches (36 centimeters) horizontally and not more than 24 inches (61centimeters) vertically from the other surfaces.

The types of access the section allows are ladders, stair towers, ramps and integral prefabricated frames.


The use section states that employees are prohibited from working on shore and lean-to scaffolds or scaffolds covered with snow, ice, or other slippery materials.

The section also provides information on the clearance distances from power lines.

Fall Protection

The fall protection section examines the different types of fall protection and their applicability to types of scaffolds. Fall protection is required whenever working more than 10 feet above a working surface.

The following shows the type of fall protection required by scaffold type.

Type of Scaffold Fall Protection Required
Aerial lifts Personal fall arrest system
Boatswains’ chair Personal fall arrest system
Catenary scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Crawling board (chicken ladder) Personal fall arrest system, or a guardrail system, or by a 3/4 inch (1.9 cm) diameter grabline or equivalent handhold securely fastened beside each crawling board
Float scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Ladder jack scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Needle beam scaffold Personal fall arrest system
Self-contained scaffold Both a personal adjustable scaffold arrest system and a guardrail system
Single-point and two-point suspension scaffolds Both a personal fall arrest system and a guardrail system
Supported scaffold Personal fall arrest system or guardrail system
All other scaffolds not specified above Personal fall arrest system or guardrail systems that meet the required criteria


If you need supported scaffolding safety training or help complying with the scaffolding regulation, call (877) 814-0779 today to speak with one of our friendly safety consultants.