A forklift is a multipurpose and efficient machine involved in many aspects of the workplace. Millions of forklifts are in use each day and they contribute to the hazards that may result in severe property damage, injuries, or even death. Forklift accidents account for many thousands of severe injuries and a large number of deaths each year in the United States.
What Types of Accidents Occur with Forklifts?
The following is the percentage of forklift accidents broken down by category:
- 26% of forklift accidents are caused by the forklift tipping over
- 18% of forklift accidents involve employees or pedestrians being hit by forklifts
- 14% of forklift accidents occur by the load falling off of the forklift
- 14% of forklift accidents occur when forklifts are used to elevate people
- 7% of forklift accidents occur due to forklifts accidentally being driven off loading docks, or due to workplace design which is hazardous for forklift use
- 7% of forklift accidents occur due of improper maintenance of the forklift
- 3% of forklift accidents occur because of loss of forklift control by the operator
- 3% of forklift accidents occur because of improper use of fork lift
What Factors Might Contribute to a Forklift Accident?
The following factors can contribute to a forklift accident:
- Lack or improper training of forklift drivers: Improperly backing up, turning, or parking the forklift can contribute to a forklift accident. Poor communication to those around the forklift, giving rides on the forklift, or horseplay on the forklift can contribute to a forklift accident.
- Poor maintenance of the forklift: Malfunctioning of the brakes, steering, transmission, or hydraulic system might contribute to a forklift accident. Missing or malfunctioning safety devices can contribute to a forklift accident. For example, a forklift should be equipped with a roll over protection system which will prevent the forklift operator from being thrown or crushed in the event the forklift tips over.
- The amount of stress involved in production or the pace of production: Workers rushing to move inventory, or meet orders increase the likelihood of forklift accidents.
- Improper workplace design for forklift operation: Narrow or crowded isles, a high level of foot traffic where the forklift is operated, vision obstructions, and other workplace conditions such as light and noise are all hazards that might contribute to a forklift accident.
- Poorly stacked or unstable pallets
- Heavy loads: Loading of lifts beyond stated limits can cause a forklift accident.
What Factors Can Reduce the Risk of a Forklift Accident?
The following factors reduce the risk of a forklift accident:
- Properly trained forklift operators
- Properly maintained forklifts
- Proper use of the areas where forklifts operate
What Agency Regulates Forklifts Use and Maintenance?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintain a variety of measures that govern the use of forklifts for companies that fall under federal jurisdiction. Individual states over the years have developed State Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans as well.
What Types of Regulations Are Out There Regarding Forklifts?
OSHA requires forklift operators to be 18 years if age or older and to be properly trained. OSHA has specific training requirements that the forklift operator must satisfy. The specific training requirements vary depending on whether the forklift operator is loading and unloading product, is working with hazardous materials, or is performing maintenance on the forklift.
Are There Any Remedies for Those Injured in a Forklift Accident?
Should I Consult a Construction Attorney?
An experienced construction attorney can help a victim of a forklift accident to determine what legal course of action to take. In addition, an attorney can help with the discovery process to see what safety measures were being undertaken by the employer at the time of the accident, and if those measures met the requirements of OSHA or State law.