Rona Workplace Fatality Demonstrates Need for Tougher Forklift Rules



    Better Training Needed to Reduce Frequency of Forklift Accidents

    EDMONTON, June 9 /CNW/ - The AFL noted today the death of a 16-year old
Rona hardware worker and suggests it could have been avoided with tougher
legislation.
    "Workplace fatalities are always a horrible tragedy, especially when the
worker is so young," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "Our immediate thoughts
go out to the family of this young man."
    "But I also cannot help thinking that if we had more appropriate safety
laws around forklifts, this might have been avoided."
    Forklifts are a regular and particularly problematic safety problem in
workplaces, McGowan points out. "Accidents are frequent with forklifts. Most
are caused by a lack of training on safe use, or inappropriate uses of the
lift, such as working from the forks."
    McGowan highlights that Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code is
virtually silent on the issue of forklifts. The only two provisions require a
legible load rating chart and that if the lift has seat belts, the belts be
used and be maintained in good condition.
    "Because our Code says nothing about forklifts, employers do very little
to ensure they are used safely," says McGowan. "There is inadequate training
on what should and should not be done - and the result, unfortunately, are
accidents like yesterday's."
    McGowan also highlights that in the revamping of the Safety Code a few
years ago, worker and some employer representatives pushed for tougher
forklift rules, including certification of operators. Those amendments were
rejected by other employer groups and the government, and the status quo
remained.
    "There is so much more that can be done," says McGowan. "Look at
Manitoba. They have a comprehensive Code of Practice for forklifts. Operators
must be certified by an independent trainer, and the employer has a series of
responsibilities for keeping the forklifts safe."
    The Manitoba approach ensures more substantial training, safe operation,
and ongoing monitoring of credentials, says McGowan. "The government needs to
move immediately to implement the Manitoba model for safety protection on
forklifts."
    "Workers want to work safely. But to achieve that, they need proper
training and education on the hazards of their job and the machinery they work
with," says McGowan. "And it is the government's responsibility to make sure
rules are in place to make it happen."





For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, AFL President, (780) 483-3021
(office) or (780) 218-9888 (cell)

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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