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Safety Standards Stiffening

Standards GraphicIn material handling and beyond, safety regulators are mounting up.

Safety regulations—we all know them, we all know why they’re in place, and we all know how frustrating they can be. While often well-intentioned, what makes regulations so difficult to keep up with is the fact that they’re constantly changing. A moving target is always more difficult to hit. However, with a little bit of extra effort and the help of your association’s publications, you and your customers can keep current. This article will help you do just that as we examine the top OSHA violations from the 2009 fiscal year, as well as some new safety regulations to watch.

New Year, Same Story

When OSHA came out with its annual lists of its most frequently cited and most harshly penalized standards earlier this year, the results were serious if not shocking for the material handling industry. Of the top 10 most frequently cited safety standards for fiscal year 2009, it can be argued that at least five, if not more, of these violations are related to or prevented by material handling products. If you look at the list of highest penalty assessments, the number is similar. These results are just screaming at material handling salespeople. Customers are getting cited often and for large amounts for improperly using the products you sell. Something has to be done about this.

This means one thing for the material handling distributor—opportunity. If you can recognize and fix these violations for your customers, imagine the appreciation they’ll show. In another article in this issue, we examine some specific things to look for, but your eyes should be open to any possibility. The opportunity for sales is there, you just have to recognize it and convince your customer why it’s worth fixing. Just a hint—showing them these lists should help.

Other Than OSHA

OSHA isn’t the only organization implementing new safety-related regulations that are affecting the business world. Several other government organizations have passed or are considering regulations that will directly impact your company. Here’s a preview of a few things that are coming down the pipe.

The Texting Message

The dangers of texting while driving have long been documented. It is estimated that drivers who text while driving are even more dangerous than those who drink and drive. Recently, the United States Department of Transportation decided to do something about it and banned texting while driving in all commercial vehicles. That means if you fire off a text while running your route, not only are you endangering those around you, you’re breaking the law. The DOT is taking this one seriously. Expect to be ticketed and expect to be fined. In an interview with CBS, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood summed up the Obama Administration’s stance, “We’re going to set the highest bar possible. …Any distraction that takes two hands off the wheel and eyes off the windshield should not be allowed,” he says. Drivers who violate the regulation face fines of up to $2,750.

Screening For Safe Drivers

When hiring a driver, a company is taking a significant risk. They’re counting on that person to ensure the safety of the vehicle and, more importantly, every other driver on the road. Now, companies are getting a little more help to make sure they make the safe decision. Due to go into effect in mid-2010, a new DOT-sponsored Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program will allow employers of commercial vehicle drivers to electronically access driver inspection and crash records as part of the hiring process. That means if a driver has a history of accidents, you’ll be able to quickly disqualify that person from consideration before completing a full background check.

Tackling Drug Testing

MHEDA members have always been serious about a drug-free workplace. Now they’re going to have another avenue to ensure such an environment exists. Currently in development is a ruling that would create a central data-base for verified positive controlled substances and alcohol test results for CDL holders. The database would also indicate instances in which a CDL holder refused to submit to testing. The regulation would require employers to report these results and refusals. This information would then be available to employers during the hiring process. It may seem extreme to some, but in an increasingly litigious society, it’s import-ant to ensure that your company and its vehicles are in the right hands.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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