According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, about 11% of all forklifts in the United States are involved in some type of accident every year.
OSHA estimates that there are approximately 34,900 seriously injurious forklift accidents in the United States every year. Around 85 of these are fatal accidents, and 51,800 result in non-serious injuries.
Causes of Forklift Accidents
Most forklift accidents, or 42%, occur when a worker is crushed by a forklift that is tipping over. Approximately 25% of accidents occur when a worker is crushed between a vehicle and a surface, and 11% occur when a worker is crushed between 2 vehicles. 10% of forklift-accident fatalities occur when a worker is run over by a forklift, while 8% are caused when a worker is struck by falling material from a forklift. About 4% are caused when workers fall from the platform of the forklift.
Other common factors in forklift -related accidents include lack of maintenance of the forklift. Malfunctioning of brakes, steering, clutch or transmission can increase the risks of an accident.
Prevention of Forklift Accidents
Like with so many types of workplace accidents, worker training plays a major part in helping prevent forklift accidents. For instance, most workers are killed when they are caught underneath a forklift that is tipping over. Studies show that 42% of all workers killed in this manner were trying to jump out of the forklift when it began to tip over.
It’s important that workers be trained to protect themselves from injuries in the event of a forklift tip over, which is a fairly common accident.
It’s important to avoid overloading the forklift in order to prevent a tip over. If the driver feels the forklift beginning to tip over, he must stay with the forklift. Forklift operators must be trained to wear their seat belts at all times. These simple steps can minimize the risk of injuries during a forklift tip over.
Training of workers must also extend to the safe operations of the vehicle. For instance, a forklift operator must be trained in proper backup techniques, correct turning processes and the need for giving signals to pedestrian workers in the area. Strong communication between the forklift operator and pedestrian workers in the neighborhood is key to preventing these accidents.
Another common factor in forklift -related accidents is lack of maintenance of the forklift. Malfunctioning of brakes, steering, clutch or transmission can increase the risks of an accident. Forklifts must be maintained properly, and malfunctioning forklifts must be put out of service until they are repaired.
John J. Sheehan is a Boston construction accident attorney, dedicated to the representation of workers who have suffered injuries in forklift accidents, and other accidents on construction sites in the Boston region and across Massachusetts.
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