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OSHA launches program to reduce auto-lift injuries and fatalities

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching next month a local emphasis program in American Samoa, Hawai’i, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to reduce injuries and fatalities associated with the operation of automotive lifts.


OSHA compliance officers will begin conducting inspections to identify and evaluate hazards of lifts used in the automotive industry, according to a USDOL/OSHA news release.


Responding to Samoa News questions, Galen Lemke, director of the OHSA federal Honolulu Area Office, which oversees the U.S. Pacific areas, says coverage “may start on July 1st” in American Samoa. “Employers could be inspected at any time after that,” he said via e-mail from Honolulu yesterday morning.


Lemke also says no injury or fatality statistics have been collected for American Samoa regarding injuries and fatalities associated with the operation of automotive lifts here.  A random number of sites in the covered industries will be inspected.


According to OSHA, inspections will be conducted at randomly selected sites in general operation within targeted industries. Places such as automobile dealers; automotive repair and maintenance shops; gasoline stations; and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores will be inspected. In addition, OSHA will respond to complaints, referrals and fatalities related to operations where automotive lifts are used.


Asked about the importance of this program, Lemke said proper maintenance of equipment and training of employees is key to protecting workers.


“Following the manufacturer's recommendations is necessary to ensure the equipment is maintained and working properly and a proper training program ensures employees operate the equipment safely,” he said.


Ken Atha, OSHA’s Regional Administrator in the West, said workers in the automotive industry are exposed to crushing hazards from automotive lifts when servicing and repairing vehicles.


“These hazardous risks can be limited by properly maintaining automotive lifts and providing workers with effective training regarding inspection and use of lifts,” he said in the OSHA news release.


The release also states that most of OSHA’s inspections for automotive lifts result from un-programmed work initiated by complaints, referrals and incidents.


Since 2007, according to OSHA’s Fatality and Catastrophe Investigation Summary database, OSHA has conducted several automotive lift inspections, 11 of which resulted from fatalities.


By targeting inspection activity to employers in the automotive industry, OSHA hopes to reduce the injury and fatality rates of employers who use these devices, it says.


Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards may call OSHA’s Honolulu Area Office 808-541-2680. Small businesses also may request assistant at no charge from the Hawai’i Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program 808-586-9100 or email:


Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.