Tony Samento of Samento Industrial Training doesn’t run your typical workplace safety education session.

 Safety expert Tony Samento gave a hard-hitting presentation at the recent Aluminum Extruders Council Management Conference in Washington, D.C.

Safety expert Tony Samento gave a hard-hitting presentation at the recent Aluminum Extruders Council Management Conference in Washington, D.C.

Years ago, he said he watched a friend die in an on-the-job accident. The trauma affected him so much that he became a safety educator, and he’s developed a graphic, hard-hitting course that shows, in occasionally gruesome detail, what workplace injuries and deaths really look like.

He brought his gripping presentation, which uses graphic photos and videos of deaths and injuries, to the recent Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) Management Conference in Washington, D.C. (He warned attendees at the start about the nature of the images, and during the presentation, he warned them again before showing slides or clips that might be upsetting.)

“I’ve been called in on 43 workplace fatalities,” he said. “That really hammers home the human cost of accidents.”

A big part of Samento’s presentation focused on forklifts, which are among the biggest workplace hazards. According to OSHA, there is a forklift-related fatality in the U.S. every three to four days, with somewhere between 80 to 100 deaths per year. There are about 850,000 forklifts in the U.S., and 11 percent of them will be involved in some type of accident each year.

Samento said seat belts are critical for forklift drivers, even though the vehicles rarely travel very fast. While about 75 percent of individuals killed with forklifts are pedestrians, the other 25 percent are forklift drivers – many of whom die because they’re not wearing seat belts and they try to bail out when there’s a tip-over, he said.

“You wear seat belts because if the forklift falls over, you don’t want to try to escape,” he said. “The load can fall on you, and unless you’re dating Lois Lane, you ain’t gonna make it. Stay in the vehicle.”

As far as dangers to those on foot around forklifts, Samento said there is no OSHA regulation about educating pedestrians who work near the vehicles. He urges drivers to maintain a three-foot clearance around the lift, because even non-fatal accidents can be gruesome. He proved that with perhaps the presentation’s grizzliest slide – a photo of a foot that was crushed and disfigured by a forklift.

“When you go back, ask your people what area concerns them the most for pedestrian traffic,” he said. “The operators know about it.”

Samento also said forklift drivers should be aware of their surroundings at all times and must refrain from using cellphones while driving. They should look behind before backing up. Sounding the horn at blind spots is good, but using spotters is better. And if drivers can’t see where they’re going, they should travel in reverse.

In areas where forklifts are operating, Samento said “do not enter” tape is much more effective than “caution” tape.

“People will step right through ‘caution’ tape,” he said. “’Do not enter’ is much clearer.”

Visitors to facilities can pose a danger to forklift drivers, because they often aren’t familiar with the layout. Samento said keep people like truck drivers from walking around your plant.

Finally, he said the best safety advice for forklift drivers can be found in two words: “Slow down.”

Later, Samento addressed workplace safety culture and personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Management sets the standard,” he said. “They must wear protective equipment as well. If you go on a shop floor without safety gear, what message are you sending to your employees?”

He also said that the PPE must match the jobs that workers perform in the plant.

“Evaluate every function of each job to determine what hazards exist to the head, eye, face, hand, foot and extremities,” he said. “Often workers won’t wear the right equipment. Management must stay on top of this.”

He also urged attendees to create a safety-first culture at their workplaces – starting with people on the shop floor.

“We are the ones doing the job,” he said. “When we see something, that’s when we need to bring it to the supervisor’s attention. If it’s ignored, keep reporting it. In the meantime, what can we do to make sure we go home at the end of the day? Inattention to this can spread like a cancer.”

While ignoring safety can be dangerous or even deadly, paying attention can reap great benefits, Samento said.

“If every employee buys into this, these accidents will go away,” he said. “The bottom line is, if you see an employee at risk, walk over and say something.”

6 Comments

  1. We need more people like Mr. Tony! His approach to safety training is very similar to mine (I’m a forklift safety trainer) and it seems to work better than the usual (orthodox) training method. People seem to leave the training with the idea of safety in a whole new way… it’s up to them. In my case, the lift truck operator and no one else. I also play and display graphic videos and photos of accidents to show the outcome of following simple safety guidelines. I’m very happy to know there are trainers like Tony Samento.

  2. On June 29 2017 Tony did a presentation at Mathews york casket he by far was the very best safety instructor I ever had the pleasure to listen to what tony teaches is real I along with some of my work mates had the unfortunate sight of seeing one of our friends in an work place accident that cost him his life , I will never forget that day it was horrible to see . What tony taught that day brought back memories ones that will never go away but at the same time one that made us a whole lot more aware of what can and will happen if you do not use safety at all times thanks tony your presentation put those safety rules back in our minds again I as well as others forget what one wrong choice can do to us or anybody else. For any company who wants to really make a statement to your employees that this is the most important thing in a work place call tony have him give a safety presentation you will not regret it thanks again tony

  3. Made the greatest impact over my 35 year manufacturing career.

  4. If your employee does not become a more concerned, safety-oriented individual after Tony Samento’s training, then you don’t want that person anywhere near your production floor or anywhere else for that matter. His presentation is outstanding both in terms of content and in the way he speaks about his experience and industrial safety in general. Highly recommended.

  5. Ive seen Tony twice over a short period of time. I have seen many presentations over my lifetime, and NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE WHAT HE DOES. His presentation, and attention to KEEPING OTHERS ATTENTION is nothing short of amazing. Thanx Tony for what you do.

  6. He came to the facility I work at today for crane training for the maintenance department. Absolutely beneficial presentation that drove the importance of safety to both the mechanics and management. Every industrial workplace can benefit from his presentation no matter how safety concerned you think your culture may already be.

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