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October 17, 2017

OSHA: Raised Pallet Work Platforms Can Be Deadly

Safety harness required
OSHA is warning employees and employers about the dangers of using a pallet raised by a forklift as a work platform. This potentially deadly combination is sometimes used to perform tasks such as reaching upper levels of shelves or storage racks. A new OSHA FatalFacts sheet details the death of a warehouse worker who died after falling seven feet from a raised pallet, and also gives advice to avoid such incidents in your own facility.

At this particular warehouse, it was common practice for workers to place one foot or both feet on a pallet and move inventory on the top shelf while a coworker lifted them to the top shelf using the forklift. The featured worker slipped on the pallet while moving inventory and fell. He died in a hospital a few days later.

To help prevent similar fatalities, OSHA advises employers to:

  • Prohobit workers from riding or standing on pallets lifted by forklifts
  • Provide workers with the proper tools and equipment for each task, including tools to access elevated storage shelves
  • Use equipment designed for lifting workers in a warehouse, such as:
    • Manufactured personnel platforms designed for lifting workers on a forklift, which incorporate fall protection (i.e., guardrail systems). This option requires prior written approval from the forklift manufacturer (29 CFR 1910.178(a)(4)).
    • High-lift order pickers, a powered industrial truck equipped with personal fall arrest equipment and designed to lift the operator alongside the forks
  • Provide training on forklifts to workers who operate and work near them. Training should include formal instruction and hands-on training at a level and in a language workers understand. 
  • Provide workers with fall protection and ensure their proper use in accordance with the Walking-Working Surfaces rule, and personal fall protection system standards.

Employers must ensure that workers do not operate a forklift with another worker on a pallet, and that they follow manufacturers’ instructions (29 CFR 1910.178(l)(1)).

Forklift Safety Resources:

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