Forklifts allow one employee to do the work of several by moving large quantities of materials and handling awkward loads. With the benefits of improved materials handling, the potential for serious injury and death also increases. The sheer mass of a forklift can be equivalent to a full-size sedan and, although speeds are relatively low, that mass makes the potential for accidents a very serious issue in the workplace.
In today's work climate, respiratory protection seems to be involved in all areas of safety, from the Construction Industry with issues surrounding the new Silica Standard requirements to indoor air quality in the General Industry arena. Having a good respiratory protection program could potentially prevent hundreds of deaths and thousands of illnesses every year.
Crystalline silica is a common mineral in the earth's crust, and is found in many types of rock including sand, quartz, and granite. When you inhale crystalline silica, the lung tissue reacts by developing fibrous tissue around trapped silica particles. Silica is present in both work and non-work environments, and exposure to crystalline silica dust has long been known to cause a disease called silicosis.
OSHA states that you have the right to a safe and healthful workplace, free of serious recognized hazards. While we may think only the "obvious" hazards in our workplace are potentially dangerous, such as machinery, chemicals, noise, or traffic, there is something that is just as dangerous that we may not be aware of.