Forklifts are used in many industries to move materials and to raise, lower, or remove objects on pallets, in boxes, or in crates. Unfortunately, they are often misused, causing injury and death to operators, co-workers, and even pedestrian bystanders.
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), forklifts overturning is the leading cause of death associated with forklifts and results in 25 percent of all forklift-related fatalities. Workers and pedestrians are commonly injured in forklift accidents in these ways:
- Forklifts being inadvertently driven off loading docks.
- Forklifts falling between the loading dock and an unsecured trailer.
- People being struck by the forklift.
- People falling while standing on elevated pallets or the forklift prong or fork.
Violations of OSHA Requirements Are Often the Cause of Serious Accidents
Every year OSHA lists its “Top 10 Most-Cited Violations” and the improper use of industrial trucks was number five on its list in 2014. Some of the ways employers violate OSHA’s rules include:
- Failing to provide training to forklift operators that includes safe operation of the forklift, refresher courses, and certification that each employee has been properly trained.
- Not inspecting the forklift before it is used or using it without repair once a condition that adversely affects its safety has been discovered. Inspections are required to be performed daily.
- Not requiring safe driving practices, like obeying speed limits, stopping at stop signs, blowing horns at intersections, and giving right of way to pedestrians.
- Not ensuring that the load and load engagement mechanism on the forklift is tilted back, if applicable, and raised only as necessary to clear a road surface. In addition, lifting or lowering the forklift while the truck is moving should not be allowed.
- Allowing unauthorized personnel to ride on the forklift and not providing a proper seat for other riders.
- Allowing forklifts to be driven up to benches or other objects where people are standing.
- Not using wheel chocks on forklifts to prevent them from accidentally moving when not being operated.
- Not providing workers who work at battery changing stations with proper protective gear, including chemical resistant gloves, steel-toe boots, acid apron, and eye and face protection.
- Not providing operators with proper safety gear, like head protection, steel-toe work boots and shoes, gloves, and hearing protection.
Employers fail to put worker safety before quickly getting the job done, resulting in many unnecessary forklift operator and co-worker injuries and deaths. Have you been injured in a forklift or other workplace accident with a non-subscriber employer who opted out of workers’ comp? Fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation to learn how our experienced workplace injury legal team can help you.