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OSHA’s Parker talks innovation, rulemaking during Forklift Safety Day event

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Washington — National Forklift Safety Day is “a tremendous opportunity to bring design [innovations] to advance worker safety,” OSHA administrator Doug Parker said during the 2022 kickoff event, which took place June 14 at the National Press Club.

Now in its ninth year, National Forklift Safety Day is hosted by the Industrial Truck Association, whose members manufacture lift trucks, tow tractors, hand-pallet trucks and other powered industrial vehicles.

“There’s an opportunity to think very holistically about how we incorporate health and safety in all aspects, from the construction of equipment through the supply chain, training and every aspect of how industrial trucks touch our economy and the vital role that they play in moving goods throughout the country,” Parker said.

He noted that an updated powered industrial trucks standard is still in the works. The comment period closed May 17, and OSHA received 23 comments.

The comments “are generally supportive of our efforts,” Parker said. “They are going to be useful and they will be considered in our future actions. There were a few that were outside the scope of what we are doing in the rule.”

He said the standard “is in dire need of updating,” because the rule was originally adopted in 1971 and the consensus standard it is based on is from 1969. “We need to take more action to improve and modernize our standards. We at OSHA want to have good jobs that are safe and healthy. We don’t have to choose between good jobs and safe and healthy jobs.”

Also speaking during the event was Chuck Pascarelli, chairman of the ITA board of directors and president of the Hyster-Yale Group’s Americas Division. Pascarelli said the safety day plays an important role among employers and workers in the industry.

“National Forklift Safety Day creates a real opportunity for our industry to collectively highlight the importance of safety and the need for ongoing training,” he said. “The reasons this is so important are threefold.”

First, Pascarelli said, “it’s simply the law.” In addition, a focus on safety and training makes good business sense while improving and/or creating a safer work environment.

Parker noted one fact that Pascarelli didn’t mention was that, one summer, the OSHA leader was a temporary worker in a warehouse. When Parker’s remarks were completed, Pascarelli asked a question on behalf of the industry representatives.

 

“You talked about working in a warehouse, so we’re curious as to whether you drove a forklift truck,” he said.

Parker replied: “I was not certified. So, I did not drive a forklift.”

“That’s the right answer,” Pascarelli said amid laughter in the room.

Other speakers at the event included:

  • Jonathan Dawley, president and CEO, KION North America (NFSD chair)
  • Lorne Weeter, vice president, mobile automation sales, Americas, Dematic
  • Brian Duffy, director of corporate environmental and manufacturing safety, Crown Equipment Corp.

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