He may be a relative newcomer to the industrial truck industry—in an industry where three decades of experience is common, seven years qualifies as a newbie—but Don C. Buckman is no novice when it comes to safety. A Certified Safety Professional with a master's degree in occupational safety and industrial hygiene and 25 years of experience in that field, he's an inspired pick to chair the Industrial Truck Association's (ITA) 2019 National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD) program.
Buckman is Hyster-Yale Group's Americas Division environmental health and safety manager as well as the company's corporate responsibility leader. In the first role, he collaborates with the company's environmental health and safety (EHS) professionals, employees, and leaders to assure compliance with environmental, health, and safety laws and regulations. A big part of his job, he says, is to help everyone recognize, reduce, and mitigate risk.
As corporate responsibility leader, Buckman collaborates with subject-matter experts on a diverse portfolio that includes such important concerns as ethics, employee and community outreach, and environmental sustainability. He is also part of a team that helps the company meet the twin goals of manufacturing forklifts through sustainable practices and designing environmentally friendly trucks with low to zero emissions.
DC Velocity asked Buckman to put on his industrial-safety hat and talk about the importance of forklift safety—not just on National Forklift Safety Day, but every day. Here's what he had to say.
Q: Is there anything you especially enjoy or find interesting about the industrial truck industry?
A: Prior to joining Hyster-Yale Group, I was in the U.S. Navy and then worked in composites, automotive, and aerospace and defense manufacturing. All through my career in manufacturing, I had seen and worked with all types and sizes of forklifts. Now, working in the industrial truck industry, I feel very much like I did in aerospace and defense, where what we were doing was helping to save lives and reduce injuries. It's great to see how industrial trucks have evolved, with their many ergonomic and comfort enhancements as well as the visual and sensing systems that are now standard on most trucks.
I also have to mention that one of the things I like best about this industry is the people. From the people who design and manufacture the trucks to those who assemble, test, and sell them—everyone is very down to earth. We take pride in knowing that what we do is benefiting the end user. We are not only making forklifts more efficient and easier to use, but we're also improving safety and making them more environmentally friendly. It's an interesting and formative time to be in the industrial truck industry!
Q: How will your professional background help you contribute to ita's efforts to promote forklift safety?
A: First, I'm extremely honored to have been chosen chairman of National Forklift Safety Day. My background and experience in the EHS profession have simply placed me at the right time and place with the right people to help deliver the forklift safety message. For the past five years, the chairs have been leaders in the industrial truck industry, many of them with insights into the global market and sales. They all have delivered the important message of industrial truck safety, and I hope to do the same.
I also believe I bring a unique perspective with my area of expertise being occupational safety. Based on this experience, I hope to highlight the many facets that make up forklift safety. We are not just dealing with the truck itself; it's also about the environment around that truck, including facility layout and operations, operator training, and the safety of both the operator and pedestrians.
Q: What are your personal priorities as NFSD chair?
A: To me, pedestrian safety is just as important as operator safety, and they must go hand in hand with an overall focus on forklift safety. I hope to build on last year's discussion of pedestrian safety by [ITA Chairman] Scott Johnson of Clark Material Handling and keep this aspect a mainstream focus for future National Forklift Safety Day programs.
Another priority is regulation. I believe ITA must continue to work closely with OSHA [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration] to update the regulations dealing with powered industrial trucks to reference the latest national consensus standard for industrial trucks. Currently, federal regulations reference the 1969 version of the standard instead of the 2016 version, which covers many enhancements that are directly or indirectly related to industrial truck safety. So the OSHA regulations don't recognize nearly 50 years of improvements and safety enhancements that are manufactured into today's industrial trucks. As a safety professional, I hope to speak to and influence this important issue.
Q: This year marks the sixth annual national forklift safety day. What's on the agenda?
A: We have a busy schedule of activities that will span two days. On Monday, June 10, there will be an educational session that's open to all ITA members and invited guests. Topics will include OSHA updates as well as an update on current congressional activity that could affect our members. Tuesday morning, June 11—National Forklift Safety Day itself—will feature speakers from industry and government, including elected officials. In the afternoon, members will visit their congressional representatives to convey our message about the critical importance of workplace safety and discuss how elected officials can help to support that. ITA member organizations will also be marking the day with safety-focused activities and events for their customers, employees, and local communities.
Q: What's the main message you would like DC Velocity's readers to take away from National Forklift Safety Day?
A: The main message is certainly reinforcing and sustaining the importance of forklift safety through effective operator and pedestrian training. National Forklift Safety Day's goal is to educate customers, the public, and government officials about the safe use of forklifts and the importance of operator and pedestrian safety. Although ITA, along with its members and OSHA, will highlight the importance of industrial truck safety on National Forklift Safety Day, "forklift safety is for life," and this focus has to be a sustainable practice the other 364 days of the year as well.