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Lifting levels of forklift security

Lifting levels of forklift security in the U.S. ...

Enhancing employee safety is a constant effort at all our locations. One of the focal points of our efforts in this field in 2009 were the many forklifts on the ever-busy shop floors. By installing a wireless safety management system, the Van Buren plant (U.S.) can now monitor all forklift-related issues. This, in turn, helps to foster a culture of responsible and safe usage.



To prevent forklift accidents involving impact damage that bring about high maintenance costs and – though extremely rare – personal injury, two major issues were tackled. Firstly, forklift access needed to be closely controlled, in order to prevent unauthorized and untrained personnel from operating them. And, secondly, the operator responsible for an incident had to be identified so corrective measures could be applied. It became clear that this could only be achieved by means of an effective safety management system.

Real-time impact reporting and strict access control

After evaluating several of these systems, the Van Buren safety team opted for a wireless monitoring system – Shockwatch – that significantly enhances forklift management. It reports impact detection in real time, disables the forklift and sounds an audible alarm when the forklift encounters an impact beyond a pre-determined level. After that impact, the system can only be reactivated by a supervisor who reports the cause and the necessary corrective action to the safety coordinator and ultimately to senior management.

The system fully controls access to the lifts. Certified operators receive specific identification keys that are programmed to allow only specific operators on designated lifts. The certifications are filed and managed by the safety coordinator. Each forklift operator needs to watch a forklift safety video, pass a written test, and then pass a practical hands-on test in order to be certificated. Also notable is the fact that the safety management system ensures full compliance with the rules and regulations of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OHSA). The forklift cannot be operated until an OSHA required pre-operation safety checklist has been performed by a properly trained and authorized forklift operator.

New way of thinking yields results

These practical changes have brought about a crucial change in mentality concerning safe forklift operation at the Van Buren plant. Increased operator accountability has improved driving behavior and equipment is now handled with greater care. The results are impressive: repair costs have been reduced by 67%.

...and in the steel cord plants in China as well

In China as well, forklift safety was a focal point. For the year 2009, the Bekaert steel cord plants there had set themselves a clear goal: to attain zero Lost Time Accidents (LTA) related to forklift operation. Efforts have not gone unrewarded. Three evaluation audits in all the Chinese steel cord plants have shown great improvement in operator behavior, shop floor management and state of equipment. ‘Safety first’ is the motto. And, indeed, the goal set was achieved. In 2009, there were zero LTAs related to forklift operations in all of our steel cord plants in China.

lifting levels

By installing a wireless safety management system on all forklifts in our Van Buren (U.S.) plant, we are now able to monitor all forklift-related issues. This both prevents forklifts accidents and fosters a culture of responsible and safe usage.



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