Forklifts have the potential to cause serious and even fatal injuries in the workplace.
Industrial factories, warehouses, and construction sites often use forklifts to move heavy materials and goods. These forklifts are powered industrial trucks that are extremely useful in helping transport heavy material. However, they are equally dangerous and have the potential to cause serious and even deadly workplace accidents.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a research analysis of forklift accidents over the past 15 years. This analysis has revealed that 1,021 worker deaths have occurred due to injuries caused by forklift accidents. According to the data, about 22% of accidents were caused by forklift overturns, 20% of workers on foot struck by a forklift, 16% of workers crushed under forklift and 9% forklift fall.
Avoiding forklift mishaps and ensuring safety is a responsibility that lies with the employers as well as workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines certain forklift safety guidelines to avoid accidents.
- Maintenance and routine inspection – Depending on the use, a forklift should be inspected daily, or every time before the start of a work shift, to ensure proper functioning. Inspections include checking oil, water, and hydraulic levels, check for cracks and leaks in hoses, checking tire tread pressure, ensuring all safety equipment is functioning and making sure that warning labels can be easily read.
- Ensure forklifts are used only by trained staff – Forklifts should be operated only by licensed staff trained to operate them. Forklift operators are trained to maneuver forklifts in a safe manner, get on and off the forklift safely, lift heavy loads safely, avoid injury in case of forklift overturns, and follow correct procedures in case of an injury.
- Using forklifts on ramps – Using forklifts on ramps requires extra caution. A forklift can easily overturn while moving on inclined ramps. Forklift operators should also maintain safe distances from the edge of the ramp and the manufacturer’s specifications should be adhered to.
- Maintain safe speeds – A forklift is, after all, a vehicle susceptible to accidents. An operator can lose control of the forklift if it is driven at high speeds. Therefore, maintaining safe speeds at all times is necessary.
- Reduce foot traffic in areas using forklifts – Often, forklift operators are unable to avoid or see on-foot workers. Forklift-related injuries and crashes can be avoided by reducing the number of on-foot workers in areas where forklifts are operated.
- Correct use of forklift safety equipment – Safety gear like hard hats, helmets, seat belts, and appropriate operator restraint systems should be used every time the forklift is in motion. Forklifts should also include a horn.
It is important to note that all forklift-related accidents should be reported to employers as soon as possible. It is, in turn, the duty of the employer to ensure in-time reporting to necessary offices like insurance companies and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Following the rules and regulations surrounding forklift, use is mandatory and negligence can make the employer liable for legal action.
Missouri Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you have been injured at work in an accident involving a forklift, it is important that you protect your legal right to workers compensation benefits. Contact our law office today to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced work injury lawyer. Call our 24-hour call center at (816) 399-3706 to learn more about your rights under Missouri workers compensation.