OSHA Violation Attorney and Workplace Safety Lawyer reviews Forklift Accident Injury & Fatalities at Workplace
Each year over 20,000 workers in the United States suffer serious injuries in forklift-related accidents. Forklifts, also known as lift trucks or fork trucks, are regularly used in many industries for lifting and lowering heavy pallets, boxes, crates and other containers. They are used in almost all storage warehouses and many other factory settings.
There are many types of powered industrial trucks, not only forklifts. Each type presents different operating hazards. Aside from serious injuries, around 85 fatalities per year occur from forklift-related accidents, the majority within manufacturing and construction industries.
Powered industrial trucks can be ridden by an operator or controlled by a walking operator. Workplace type and conditions are important factors in hazards associated with powered industrial trucks like forklifts. Employers have a duty to provide proper training and keep a safe workplace. Any safety practice that puts employees at risk is grounds for legal action.
Forklifts & Other Equipment Poses Workplace Risks
The most notoriously dangerous component to lift trucks is their instability. Fork trucks carry huge loads that have the potential to fall and cause injury and damage. An unstable and heavy load can fall from the truck, or may cause the entire forklift to tip.
Operators are advised to never attempt to make a turn with a raised load. These are many safety regulations that have been implemented by the OSHA, though these laws are often ignored by employers.
Industrial workers should know that they have rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. The Act requires employers to fix common hazards and implement preventative regulations to avoid serious accidents. Employers of forklift operators have as much responsibility for safety as the operators themselves.
Warehouse owners must ensure the safety of each machine before operation, and are responsible for maintenance and replacing faulty machines. Employers cannot legally hire forklift operators who have not completed a certification program.
Note: It is a violation of the law for anyone UNDER 18 years of age to operate a forklift.
Common Forklift Accident Injury
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over 10 percent of all forklifts will be involved in an accident. Around 70 percent of all forklift accidents could be prevented with proper training and enforced safety policies. Common causes of accidents include:
- Tip over accidents
- Overloading equipment
- Lift trucks inadvertently driven off loading docks
- Lifts fall between docks
- Lift struck by another lift truck
- Trucks fall while on elevated pallets
- Forklifts hit employees or pedestrians
- Load falls from forklift
- Forklift improperly used to elevate person
- Improper maintenance of the forklift
- Loss of fork lift operator control
The Lyon Firm works with industry experts, engineers, and OSHA safety experts to investigate and determine the root cause of forklift accidents to build a compelling case and win compensation for injured victims and their families.
Site-Specific Forklift Training
Employers have a responsibility to ensure that each forklift operator is competent and ready to operate a powered industrial truck safely. Training must include the specific conditions under which the vehicle will be operated, such as surface conditions, ramps, visibility, and employee traffic. These factors are different for every workplace.
Because forklifts are specialized vehicles, workers who operate forklifts must be certified by a training center that complies with OSHA standards. Those who obtain certification must pass a knowledge-based test as well as field testing. Forklift operators must be evaluated initially and every three years thereafter. Training and evaluations must be documented. Refresher training is necessary in the following situations:
- A forklift operator is observed operating unsafely
- A forklift operator receives an unsatisfactory evaluation
- An operator is assigned to a different area of use. Changes in workplace conditions affect familiar and safe operation
Forklift training must include both formal instruction and practical driver training. If training is incomplete, an employer is likely liable for any forklift-related injury caused and the damages that may result.
If you or a loved one has suffered a forklift accident injury, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding forklift accident injury risks.