One of the biggest dangers in the workplace can be operating heavy machinery – specifically forklifts.
Each year nearly 11% of forklifts will be part of some sort of accident, resulting in about 95,000 injuries and 100 deaths. According to OSHA the number one cause of injures is from the vehicle tipping over.
For those who operate powered industrial trucks, there comes a great deal of responsibility with this heavy equipment. If you don’t believe me, just Google “forklift deaths” and read some of the tragic stories that appear. You might be surprised by the number of links that pop up. These tragic accidents are all too common... and very avoidable.
One of the big news stories in Philadelphia over the past two days is the death of a 13 year-old boy who was killed in a forklift accident. In this case, a few teens broke into a warehouse and were apparently joyriding, which led to the accident. Most cases of forklift accidents involve workers who were not properly trained, not wearing protective equipment, or just being careless.
OSHA violations concerning powered industrial trucks increased over 75% to 3,452 compared to 1,993 from 2012. Forklift overturns are the foremost cause of fatalities among powered industrial vehicles and account for 25% of all forklift related deaths. A common occurrence when a forklift overturns is the driver attempting to jump out of the vehicle. With the proper training employees would know that jumping out of the vehicle can causes it to overturn onto them.
To combat these incidents, OSHA requires the certification of drivers, maintenance of forklifts, and training of employees who come into contact with them. Recertification is required if an operator shows that they lack the knowledge to safely operate their vehicle or, if the operator starts using a new vehicle. Otherwise, recertification takes place every three years.
Training includes formal instruction in either lecture or computer formats, as well as practical training. Practical training includes demonstrations, exercises, and an evaluation of the employee operating the forklift at the workplace in which they will be working.
Some common causes of forklift fatalities include:
Worker on Foot Struck by Forklift
Victim Crushed by Forklift
Fall From Forklift
As with all heavy machinery, simple mistakes can lead to serious injuries. For instance, the operator of the vehicle can lose control from speeding or sharp turns. Also, driving one side of the wheels on a raised surface can cause the vehicle to lose balance. Forklift overturns are the leading cause of fatalities involving forklifts and they represent about 25% of all forklift-related deaths.
Many forklift fatalities are caused by the operator trying to jump from the vehicle as it is tipping. If you are ever in that situation, we hope you are wearing your seatbelt… and stay with the vehicle if it tips.
To prevent forklift related injuries, training and certification should take place. In addition, employees should maintain a safe distance from the vehicle when possible. Operators should limit the speed of the forklift. Do not load the vehicle in a way that restricts the driver’s view. And employees should not walk near or under raised forks. By creating a designated walkway traffic between forklifts and pedestrians will be separated.
If your organization needs training to create a safer environment, specifically to reduce forklift injuries, call on us. We can visit your facility, access your safety needs, train your employees at this convenience, and help your workers feel as safe and productive as possible.
For more information about making your workplace safer, contact the safety specialists at 800.523.5367 or visit our website.
Have a safe day!