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5 Things You Should Do To Avoid Forklift Related Accidents

5 Things You Should Do To Avoid Forklift Related Accidents

Forklift accidents are no joke – they’re a concern for others, supervisors, owners, and the people operating them. If you’ve spent your time around the bull and deal with forklifts on a day to day, maybe you’ve come across an accident or two during a couple stints.

Other than common sense, having a smart policy in place means enforcing the safe-obvious rules you’ve set up. Punishment for workers who violate your rules should be severe.

Severe enough to send a message: if workers pose a risk to injury, either to themselves or others by being unsafe and working unprofessionally… then they could, let’s say, get the boot. For a day or two. Maybe their lunch won’t be paid for the week.

There’s a whole host of punishments out there for people who have a blatant disregard for the rules.

There are different ways (most of them involve common sense professionalism and respect) to avoid forklift-related injuries. Let’s look to some action steps you can put in place today.

1. Supervision and Monitoring

It’s the duty of employers to provide a safe workplace within the rights of workers – nobody elses. Monitoring and keeping track of the lowdown is a key part in maintaining that type of workplace safety.

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As such, employers can go through a weekly checklist to ensure their line of forklifts is suitable for use – inspecting areas such as…

  • Fluids and controls
  • Mast
  • Warning devices
  • Seating
  • Tires
  • Seatbelt, forks, Etc.

It’s also wise to set in place, a special procedure for employees to follow should incase an unsafe forklift meet their path.

2. BEING CRUSHED

Do me a favour and go find a dump truck. Then go find a medium-sized forklift. Look real close at the two – what do you think their weight differences are? Monumentally huge, right?

Wrong.

They’re about the same weight. Ipso facto, they should both be treated with the proper respect. The size of a medium-sized forklift is deceiving – there’ve been many instances of forklift operators who, misjudging the lift, jumped to the ground (OR tipped over!) and miscalculated the fall. Did you hear about a man in Brooklyn who was crushed to death? OSHA estimates that over 85 fatalities (in the workplace) are forklift related.

Preventing these tragedies is as simple as companies providing sufficient training for use with any machine. It is the duty and responsibility of supervisors to ensure proper maintenance of equipments and that they are being used in right way to avoid accidents.

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3. Safe Warehouse Environment

The physical environment around you (most likely the warehouse), such as the lighting, ventilation, housekeeping, road surfaces, etc. plays a big part in forklift safety.

Let’s be obvious here: the stronger (or more) lights there are, the safer forklift drivers will see any obstructions in their path.

However, one bulb doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to proper lighting design. Lighting is serious work.

“Housekeeping” refers to keeping the warehouse organized and tidy – like a $50/hr. maid spends time cleaning up a wealthy client’s home; no junk lying everywhere, no wrappers littering the ground, etc.

Overhead walkways also help employees remain safe. However, safety/visibility mirrors installed in a lot of places around the warehouse (and on the front and back of forklifts)? Tell me forklift drivers can’t use mirrors to help them see where they’re going. Convex safety mirrors do just that.

What else makes the environment safer? Signs, safety barriers, boom gates, etc. That doesn’t mean forklift injuries will be wiped clean – but the amount of them will diminish over the coming months with each respectful upgrade.

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4. Maintain Forklifts

Having a well-maintained forklift is essential for preventing accidents. That isn’t surprising, is it? In case it’s time to repair forklifts, purchase those that come with their own safety reading material.

According to CertifyMe.net, forklift injuries happen twenty thousand times a year. Most forklift accidents happen when the forklift has poor maintenance, improper backing up techniques and workers don’t consider the forklift’s age.

Let me ask you, what maintenance program do you have set up? Does it include a weekly schedule of services? How often do you perform forklift (and other machinery) inspections? What about cleanings? Ensure the mechanism that’s always on is the one that stops forklifts from starting unless the seatbelt is fastened around the driver.

Have you equipped your forklifts with anti-slip surfaces and grab-rails? These make the difference when someone falls and is bedridden for a few months.

5. Lack Of Safety Education

The warehouse will fail to meet its full potential, and majorly suffer when it comes to production. It will also create serious risks to every eyeball in there. When warehouse workers aren’t trained, everyone suffers. Everyone.

The OSH reports that a lack of training, or being trained improperly, contributes to forklift injuries.

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We can see a trend: what’s the foremost cause of injury in the workplace? Inexperienced workers. The problem with inexperienced workers? They can cause company profit to plummet; how couldn’t they be a liability? They weren’t trained in the first place! If they were, maybe an accident wouldn’t have happened, and their (or should we say your?) mistake wouldn’t cost the company in damages.

The same goes for veterans who’ve been around the block; new equipment comes in, let’s say, your golden oldies have no clue what does what or how to work it. A “refresher” course is the divider between a major, expensive accident (TRAGIC accident that could be fatal, actually)… and experienced workers utilising their skills professionally.

The biggest thing is to advocate safety (such as The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does) at all times through the year. Discuss safety monthly or weekly – and please address safety issues as they pop up.

LAST THOUGHTS

OSHA summed it up best when they said that operating a forklift without proper training is dangerous. There have been many reports about forklift accidents; some list 85 fatalities each year. With over 850,000 forklifts in the U.S. alone, 85 fatalities isn’t peanuts. Let’s try to keep that number smaller – don’t add to it by being irresponsible. Stay safe out there.

Featured photo credit: pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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