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Forklift modified without manufacturer’s approval; worker struck, killed

Following the death of a worker who was hit by a forklift , OSHA has cited Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. with nine-including two willful and seven serious-safety violations. The incident occurred Nov. 19, 2013, at the Detroit, Michigan marine terminal when the worker was struck by a 62,000-pound-capacity forklift carrying a 40,000-pound steel coil. The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. has a responsibility to train its workers in the safe operation of dangerous equipment, and a worker tragically lost his life because this company failed to live up to that responsibility," said Larry Johnson, OSHA's area director in Lansing. "A worker's life should never be the cost of doing business."

A willful citation was issued for modifying a forklift without obtaining manufacturer approval. A second willful citation was issued for failing to establish vehicle routes, traffic rules and to post signs indicating pedestrian traffic where employees work.

Being struck-by vehicles and other objects is a leading cause of workplace deaths. Approximately 75 percent of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment.

Seven serious safety violations were cited. Five of those involve forklift safety, including failing to train employees on operating instructions, warnings and precautions listed in the operator's manual; maintain vehicles in safe working order; and direct employees to sound the horn when visibility was obstructed. Other citations involved failing to conduct monthly crane inspections and test cargo gear for load capacity.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $168,700. To view the current citations, visit
http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/NTandD_citation_949121.pdf*

Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. employs about 75 workers and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Being struck-by vehicles and other objects is a leading cause of workplace deaths. Approximately 75 percent of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment. Causes of struck-by accidents typically involve reverse vehicle movement into a pedestrian outside the driver's field of vision, or vehicles falling off ramps, inclines or unstable ground. Accident prevention strategies include ensuring back-up alarms are functional, check the periphery of vehicle before operating, stay alert, obey all traffic rules and signs, minimize distractions, inspect and maintain vehicles, use safety belts and turn on headlights.

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