The presences of forklifts are common place in the packaging, loading and construction industries. Forklifts have a variety of uses, but most forklifts are used to move or load heavy machinery, equipment and materials. They are also used in stocking lumber, steel, motors and other industrial equipment.
Forklift accidents frequently occur in these businesses. The most prevalent accidents with forklifts are in transportation facilities, involving trucking, railroad, barges and the airplanes.
Some of the common causes of forklift accidents are improper safety measures, negligent handling, failure to train and supervise forklift operators, lack of communication and equipment failure.
Sometimes forklift accidents occur just because of poor judgment, hurried loading schedules and simple inadvertence. Forklift accidents can cause serious injuries and death. There are rules and procedures that are laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that directly apply to forklift use. These guidelines are useful for training forklift operators. Safety is critically important in the operation of forklifts and the heavy materials that are used with them.
Forklifts have many adjustable parts including the forks, the lifts, and the tilt back and the forward and reverse gears of the fork truck. Many companies that utilize forklifts have training manuals for its operators.
Forklifts overturning are one of the most common causes of serious injuries or fatalities to operators of forklift trucks. The national data on deaths resulting from forklift accidents shows that the three most common incidents are overturns, other nearby workers being too close to a moving forklift or and fall from a forklift.
Some forklift injuries occur in the absence of operator negligence. Some of the most serious injuries related to forklift operations occur because of defects in the mechanics of the machine itself. The product defect could be the lift mechanism, the fork adjustment mechanism, the electrically prompted parts or the structural parts of the forklift. If an equipment part malfunctions, the center of gravity of the lift truck is off or operator error occurs, the forklift operator and co-workers could be seriously injured.
Given the dangers centered around the use of forklifts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has initiated a series of safety guidelines that are designed to keep workers and operators near or in using forklifts safe. These safety guidelines are usually published in the workplace or made available for training purposes and are a part of the company’s safety manual as well as used in safety training.
The OSHA regulations include these items:
- Do not allow any employee under the age of 18 years old to operate a forklift.
- Train and certify all operators to ensure the forklift will be operated safely.
- Maintain the forklift in all ways, including its tires.
- Make sure that the forklift is examined and checked for repair needs or defects before using.
- Do not make any modifications, adjustments to the attachments, forks, lift device or other features without first getting approval from the manufacturer.
- All forklift operators must follow the safety rules and procedures of the company where the machine is being used.
- Do not operate the forklift when person are in the area.
- Do not attempt to lift material that is of greater weight than allowed by the forklift manufacturer.
- Do not attempt to lift or move material unless it can be centered on the forks.
- Make sure that the forks are adjusted according the load being lifted and moved.
- Do not drive the forklift at excessive speeds.
- Always have complete control of the forklift when in operation.
Forklifts are extremely valuable in many industries. Forklifts are instrumental parts of the trucking industry, railways, and cargo moving businesses, shipping by water, sea or air businesses. Since there is so wide in heavy industry, including the construction business, accidents involving workers is inevitable. But, safe use of these important devices can be accomplished when users are properly trained.
Our office and Robert Kreisman tried a Cook County, Illinois jury case involving the serious injury to our client who was crushed beneath more than a ton of steel that fell off of the forks of a forklift truck that was being operated by an individual who was not paying attention to those around him. This terrible accident should have been avoided and should not have occurred at all but for the negligence of the operator. The case settled for a substantial amount of money, $2.5 million, while the jury was deliberating.
Kreisman Law Offices has over 40 years in experience in forklift accidents and workplace injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a forklift accident, please call us 24 hours a day at 312.346.0045 or toll free at 800.583.8002 for a free and immediate consultation, or complete a contact form online.