There are more than one million forklifts in operation around the United States that provide a key material moving component for many industries. Forklift operators are skilled employees who work in numerous fields, including warehousing and logistics, manufacturing, transportation, and construction. Yet, the occupation carries with it a significant number of health and safety hazards to the operators, as well as other workers and pedestrians.
Safety is a key part of any mechanical equipment operation. Employers must provide safety training, education, and consistent monitoring for operations to be as safe as possible. Yet, accidents still happen and can result in injury or death on the job.
Annual statistics compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that there are more than 110,000 forklift accidents each year, with injuries to over 20,000 workers. Many of these injuries are regrettably preventable and operators should be aware of the risks and what their employer needs to do for prevention. OSHA inspections show that forklift citations are among the top 10 industry violations annually, demonstrating the significant need for better safety procedures in the workplace.
Falling loads injure pedestrians and workers, as well as the operators. For this reason, adhering to the maximum recommended load is critical since cutting corners can result in heavy items injuring or crushing pedestrians. When the forklift tips over, this occurs often due to high speeds or heavy or imbalanced loads. It can also happen when traveling on slippery or uneven surfaces.
Unbalanced loads can impede the forklift driver’s field of vision and these risks cause hit-by accidents to other workers or passing pedestrians. Where floor markings are obscured or faded, the forklift driver cannot see pedestrians clearly. Companies should adhere to standard safety measures by keeping floor markings visible, monitoring load capacity, and enforcing speed limits. Equipment maintenance is a basic safety practice that also must be followed. Forklifts, like any motorized vehicle, have wear and tear on parts, making required maintenance schedules vital for accident prevention.
Safety training for employees is an integral part of safety in industrial settings where forklifts are used. Employees should receive formal certification where needed, as well as ongoing workplace safety feedback. If standards are not enforced for all employees, worker safety is jeopardized. OSHA’s own statistics show that nearly 70 percent of accidents could have been avoided with appropriate training and enforcement. No employee should be in fear for their well being due to lax safety management. When an employee is hurt on the job, consulting with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer will help ensure you receive the best legal advice possible and get your life back.
If you were injured in a workplace accident, the Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP can provide the strong representation and guidance you need and deserve. For a free consultation regarding your case, complete our online form or call us at 267-589-0090 today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.