The forklift has become an indispensable piece of equipment in manufacturing and warehousing operations, reducing worker load by transporting heavy materials across the workplace. However, forklifts also contribute to workplace hazards that may result in severe property damage, injuries, or even death when improperly maintained or operated. Unfortunately, some forklift operators may take shortcuts and ignore basic safety rules and basic operator safety precautions outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
OSHA estimates 680,400 forklift accidents happen each year. These workplace accidents cause crushing and pinning type injuries, which frequently result in permanent disability and death. Common examples of forklift-related accidents can include:
- Employees or pedestrians being hit by forklifts
- Forklifts used to elevate people who then fall or are dropped
- Forklifts tipping over
- The load falling off of the forklift and injuring another worker
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 100 workers lose their lives and another 20,000 are seriously injured every year by workplace forklift accidents. Overturns, when the forklift tips over, are the leading cause of forklift fatalities and account for 25 percent of all forklift deaths.
What contributes to a forklift accident?
- Poorly trained forklift drivers: An improperly trained forklift driver might engage in workplace behavior including wrongly backing up, turning, or parking the forklift, failing to communicate with those around the forklift, and giving rides or horseplay on the forklift.
- Inadequate maintenance of the forklift: If a company fails to maintain its industrial equipment, it can and often will malfunction. Malfunctioning brakes, steering, transmission, or hydraulic system might contribute to a forklift accident. Missing or malfunctioning safety devices, like rollover protection systems, can contribute to the severity of a forklift accident.
- Haste of production/operation: Workers rushing to move inventory or to meet orders can forego safety and thus increase the likelihood of forklift accidents.
- Incompatible workplace design for forklift operation: If a warehouse or other location in which a forklift needs to be used is not designed to accommodate the machinery, accidents will happen. Narrow aisles, blind spots, building columns, poor turning radius, intersection or door obstructions, ramps and the condition of the loading dock can all contribute to an inefficient and unsafe workplace environment for forklifts, and cause or contribute to forklift accidents.
- Poorly stacked or unstable pallets
- Overweight loads: Loading lifts at weights beyond the forklift’s stated limits can cause an accident.
Contact Craft Law Firm
If a forklift has caused you to sustain injuries, it is important to contact a workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced trial lawyers of Craft Law Firm have handled industrial accident cases involving forklifts and heavy machinery. They are well acquainted with the dangers and resulting injuries in these accidents, as well as the applicable laws and liability issues.