Forklifts are present in nearly every factory in the country. They’re also connected to around 100 deaths, more than 34,000 serious injuries and over 61,000 minor injuries each year — easily making them some of the most dangerous objects around the workplace for many U.S. employees.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 70 percent of those accidents each year could have been prevented. To put it in terms of numbers, if all of the preventable accidents were stopped, there would only be 30 deaths and a little over 10,000 serious injuries caused by preventable accidents next year.
What’s the key to stopping those preventable injuries? OSHA recommends standardized training and safety procedures for all employees, but that doesn’t just mean the ones who will be driving the forklifts. Everyone in the factory who will be anywhere near a forklift is actually at risk, since almost 80 percent of all forklift accidents actually involve a pedestrian.
Factory floor employees should be trained to watch for forklifts that are on the move and to be alert for any signs that a forklift is in trouble. For example, the smell of carbon monoxide means that the forklift is being used in a space that’s not properly vented. The fumes could cause an operator or a floor worker to make a mistake or even pass out.
Employees should also know how to spot an incorrectly loaded forklift. These account for 14 percent of accidents each year. Drivers should also lower the lift as far as possible before attempting to move a load.
Drivers need to be specifically trained on how to handle forklift properlyâ??many people assume that it’s not much different than driving a car, but the skill set a driver needs is somewhat different, and the body of the forklift moves in a much different manner. Operators are also supposed to be able to maintain their forklifts, to prevent service problems that could cause a forklift to halt unexpectedly, tip over, or roll out of place.
Factory workers who have suffered serious injuries from forklifts may need a significant amount of time off of work to recover or may even suffer permanent disabilities. If you find yourself in that situation, consider contacting an attorney to discuss your legal options.
Source: Reliable Plant, “5 Tips for Preventing Forklift Accidents,” Tom Reddon, accessed March 03, 2017