Here's How to Prevent Injuries Caused by Forklift Accidents
Forklifts are essential heavy machinery for every warehouse and manufacturing plant. Workers rely on them to efficiently carry inventory from point A to point B. While highly useful, forklifts can also be dangerous when not operated with care.
Accidents involving forklifts often result in catastrophic, and even fatal, injuries. In less severe cases, workers may sustain musculoskeletal conditions or long-term vibration-related injuries from prolonged use.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 35,000 serious injuries and 62,000 non-serious injuries occur each year in the United States. Additionally, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics concludes that there were 96 worker fatalities involving forklifts in 2015.
Five key tips for forklift safety
As a preventative measure, Safety + Health Magazine offers five key tips for operating forklifts:
- Training for safety According to a safety guide published by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry, workers who don't have proper forklift training and knowledge, or operate them carelessly, are at a heightened risk of injury or death. The guide cites OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks Standard (29 CFR 1910.178) that states employers must ensure that workers are properly trained and can adequately demonstrate their ability to safely operate a forklift. In addition, workers must complete all training requirements, including lectures, written material, hands-on practice, and a performance evaluation.
- Performing checkups Before operating a forklift, workers should perform daily safety inspections to ensure that all components are working properly. Before even starting the engine, operators should inspect the seat belts, tires, lights, horn, brakes, backup alarms, fluid levels, and parts involved in moving and loading inventory.
- Knowing the machinery and rules Before even stepping on a forklift, operators should know every aspect of the machinery and how each control functions. In addition, operators should be aware of their surroundings at all times. OSHA suggests doing the following:
- Keeping a clear view
- Looking in the direction of travel
- Boosting visibility with rear-view mirrors, spotters, and other aids
- Using headlights when operating a forklift at night, outdoors, or in areas where visibility may be limited
- Understanding the stability triangle Operators must be cautious about a forklift's center of gravity and balance. This can be thrown off by unstable loads, carrying inventory beyond the weight capacity, starting or stopping too fast, riding on rough terrain, or navigating corners too quickly.
- Understanding loading basics In order to prevent a forklift from tipping or inventory from falling off, operators should carefully calculate each load. OSHA suggests:
- Making sure the forklift is square and even with a load, and inventory is centered
- Avoiding overloads
- Slightly tilting the forklift backward before lifting
- Lifting the load just enough to clear the floor or rack
- Making sure loads are placed on flat and even surfaces
- Ensuring that forklift is positioned squarely in front of the placement destination
Hurt in a forklift accident? Here are your legal options.
The Mississippi attorneys at Tabor Law Firm, P.A. know how serious accidents involving forklifts and other heavy equipment can be. Workers injured in these types of accidents often require months of medical care and physical therapy, as well as time away from work. Our legal team can help you get the compensation you deserve while you focus on recovery.
To get started, contact us online and set up your free consultation.