Forklifts are one of the most common pieces of machinery used in workplaces and are utilized in a variety of industries like construction, factories, and warehouses. While they can be extremely helpful in moving heavy materials and large boxes, they also pose a risk to the workers who drive them and to those around them.
Common Causes of Forklift Accidents
Forklift accidents could be reduced if employers put adequate planning and safety programs in place. However, when they do not do this, these dangerous accidents happen due to:
- Improper training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all forklift drivers to be properly trained and certified. When employers fail to train their operators properly, accidents happen.
- Truck tip-overs. Forklifts can tip over if they are loaded improperly or when they are going up and down steep inclines if the driver is not careful. These accidents can cause serious injuries and death to the driver and workers around the machine.
- Off-dock accidents. These accidents occur when a truck that is being loaded by a forklift pulls away from the dock suddenly, causing the vehicle to crash onto the pavement below the docking area.
- Unsafe operation. Forklifts are steered by their back wheels and when the rear wheels turn, the rear engine moves too. If operators do not account for this when backing up, they can swing the rear of the vehicle into stacks of inventory or other workers.
- Overhead masts. Forklifts are supposed to be equipped with overhead guards, also known as masts, to protect the driver from falling objects. If the machine starts tipping and the operator tries to jump off, the mast can prevent this and trap the worker between the vehicle and floor.
- Driver ejection. If the vehicle is not equipped with seatbelts, arm rests, and grab handles, an operator can be ejected when the machine is moving.
- Co-worker accidents. Co-workers in the surrounding area can be hit by a driver if they or the operator are not paying attention or if the forklift does not have an automatic signal alarm or a flashing warning light.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning. Forklifts emit carbon monoxide. When an indoor workplace is not ventilated properly, the driver and other workers are in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Forklift accidents can result in serious injuries, including foot crushing and amputations, other serious fractures, head and brain injuries, organ damage, and death to both the operator and co-workers. However, an injured worker may be entitled to compensation for his medical bills and lost wages under workers’ compensations laws.
If you or a loved one suffered a work-related injury in New Jersey, start an online chat to learn how I can help you get the compensation you could be entitled to under workers’ compensation.