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March 2014

February 2014

It's Just a Powered Pallet Jack

Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Take an ordinary, manual pallet jack and kick it up a notch with the addition of an electric motor and, voila, you have a powered pallet jack.  Wonderful, no more strain to the low back by having to overcome inertia (with brute force) to get the wheels rolling as is commonly the case with a heavy load on the manual type of pallet truck.  But wait, do we just place it into service and let our employees go merrily on their way down the aisle with the new motorized rig?  Not so fast!

OSHA regards a powered pallet jack as a type of powered industrial truck subject to their standard, 29 CFR 1910.178.  In their Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) e-Tool, OSHA categorizes a powered pallet jack as a Class III Electric Motor Hand Truck or Hand/Rider Truck with examples illustrated in the Types and Fundamentals section.  As such, operation of a powered pallet jack is subject to the specific training requirements as follows:


Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator's performance in the workplace.

In addition, a daily or pre-operational inspection is required for a powered pallet jack to include the following:

  • Vehicle inspection: Forks, battery, and hand guards.
  • Operations inspection: Check the drive operation, test the brakes, check the horn, and inspect the load-handling attachment operation.

For more information on OSHA’s powered industrial trucks standard, click here.

Safety Culture Improvement

Randy Klatt 2014 Posted by Randy Klatt

The famous physicist, Steven Hawking, once said, “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”  I’m sure that Mr. Hawking would agree that workplace injuries, or injury prevention, are not predestined either.   People often think safety is “common sense”; after all, no one wants to get hurt.  But safety is manageable, and must be managed.  It is a system just like any other element in business.  Recognizing this, and understanding how to instill a positive safety culture within your organization, can be a very powerful tool in the prevention of workplace injuries. 

Sometimes “the way we do things” is wrought with hazards or unsafe behaviors, and it takes courage to change these.  In previous Safety Net posts we have described the Seven Steps to Stagnation; they are worth repeating, and eliminating, now:

1.  We’ve never done it that way

2.  We’re not ready for that

3.  We’re doing all right without it

4.  We tried that once before

5.  It costs too much

6.  That’s not our responsibility

7.  It just won’t work

Creating a positive safety culture takes a combination of efforts by everyone within the organization.  Establishing written safety policies and procedures, thorough and consistent safety training, adhering to compliance standards, establishing a job hazard analysis process, recognition and discipline policies, front line supervisor training and assigning safety responsibilities, and buy-in from top to bottom are all parts of a successful program. 

Check out the resources available on the OSHA Safety Management Systems eTool page.  MEMIC policyholders can also access the Safety Director for additional information. Get started with your safety culture improvement today. It is true—no one wants to get hurt.  But wanting it doesn’t make it so. 

A Whoops and a FOOSH: Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls

Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

It is in that “whoops” moment, when we lose the battle of upright balance to gravity, that we can sustain a FOOSH (fall on an outstretched hand) injury from reflexively trying to brace ourselves as we plummet to the ground.   With our feet out from underneath us, the impact of landing hard commonly results in a wrist fracture (distal end of the radius) with swelling, pain, and loss of wrist motion. The swelling and displacement of the radius can also lead to an acute form of carpal tunnel syndrome from compression on the median nerve.

With this winter only half over, the potential for a slip and fall incident remains high, particularly as daytime temperatures moderate and a refreeze occurs over the evening and nighttime.  Vigilance to adequate maintenance of outdoor walking and working surfaces, selection of proper footwear offering good traction, and modification of one’s pattern of movement or gait are of paramount importance in avoiding a FOOSH.

MEMIC policyholders have access to slip and fall prevention resources in MEMIC's Safety Director, including a Webinar-on-Demand, PowerPoint presentation, and a one-page A MEMIC Minute handout.   Additionally, MEMIC policyholders can explore the free video lending library,  which features both a DVD and streaming video on slips, trips, and falls. 

Employers take action and educate employees on the seriousness of taking proper precautions to prevent a slip and fall injury.   Let them know you’re not “fooshing” around.