Fine proposed following Con-way Freight forklift death

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed a total of $119,500 in fines against Con-Way Freight Inc. for safety violations following an inspection at the company’s Manchester, N.H., service center that followed a fatality involving a forklift operator.

Luke Tenhave, 52, a truck driver who had worked for the company for about 10 years, was crushed to death Oct. 3, 2007, when he was pinned under a forklift after it went off the edge of a loading dock. OSHA found that the employee had not been using the forklift’s seatbelt, and that the company had not trained him and other forklift operators to follow the manufacturer’s guideline that seatbelts be used during operation.

“Con-Way Freight repeatedly has refused to require forklift operators to use seatbelts even though another employee died in a similar accident in Dallas in 2003,” Francis Pagliuca, OSHA’s acting area director for New Hampshire, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “This practice must change, or employees nationwide continually will remain exposed to the dangers of fatal or disabling injuries.”

Gary Frantz, Con-Way’s director of corporate communications in San Mateo, Calif., told the Union Leader that Con-way Freight employees are fully trained in the operation of forklift equipment as outlined in the owner’s manual.

“The company places the utmost importance on the safety of our employees and the safe and proper operation of industrial freight handling equipment at our facilities,” Frantz said. “This was a tragic, unfortunate accident which we believe occurred as a result of misjudgment by the employee, who had been fully trained in the proper operation and safety procedures of the equipment.”

OSHA’s powered industrial truck requirements are available online here.