New Initiative Educates Employers about Young Workers and Forklifts

Most workers under the age of 18 are prohibited from operating forklifts, and OSHA, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are trying to get that message across to employers.

"We have to remind all employers of regulations that prohibit most workers under 18 from operating forklifts outside of agricultural operations," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. "Working with NIOSH and the department's Wage and Hour Division, we compiled a packet of information that we believe will help protect working teens from being seriously injured or killed."

The packet of information includes a Safety and Health Information Bulletin issued jointly by OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division titled, "Protecting Young Workers: Prohibition Against Young Workers Operating Forklifts." The bulletin discusses laws and standards that prohibit workers under the age of 18 from operating forklifts for non-agricultural operations, and discusses OSHA's powered industrial truck standard. It also discusses two fatal forklift accidents last year in Georgia and Massachusetts warehouses that claimed the lives of two workers under 18.

The material includes a forklift safety packet previously disseminated by NIOSH and the Wage and Hour Division that includes a one-page NIOSH Alert on forklift safety as well as specific fatality case reports. A "Forklift Stop Sticker" is added for employers to attach to equipment that will remind workers and supervisors of the age prohibition. Finally, a brochure on Labor Department's compliance assistance resources is also provided.

"NIOSH is pleased to team with OSHA, the Wage and Hour Division, and other partners to provide essential information for preventing these tragic deaths and injuries among working youth. NIOSH's research findings and recommendations offer practical guidance for identifying potential hazards and designing effective preventive measures," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.

Tammy D. McCutchen, Wage and Hour Division administrator, added, "The restrictions on youth employment are designed to provide young workers with safe and positive early work experiences. Employers must understand and comply with these laws to prevent serious occupational injuries and fatalities among youth. We believe the information we've assembled will help do just that."

Approximately 2,500 copies of the packet of materials have already been sent to numerous federal agencies, professional associations, and educational institutions. A limited number of additional copies of the packet are available through OSHA's Publications Office by calling (202) 693-1888.

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