Forklifts are a common sight in warehouses and on construction sites. Designed to lift and transport heavy materials, they are an indispensable piece of equipment. However, they can also cause serious injuries. In some cases, individuals have been killed in a forklift accident. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 67 forklift injuries as a primary source of injury in 2012, which is an increase over the previous year.
Furthermore, various estimates state that thousands of more people are injured each year by forklifts as a secondary source of injury, such as boxes that fall from a forklift or a forklift that tips due to high speed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are about 95,000 forklift injuries annually. There were also 27 fatal forklift accidents in 2012, according to the NSC. The NSC states, “Forklift fatalities are most prevalent in the trade, transportation, and utilities; manufacturing; and construction industries.”
The Most Common Types of Forklift Injuries
Forklift accidents can happen in a variety of ways, from an untrained forklift driver that strikes a pedestrian to a forklift that tips over because it was going too fast. Knowing the most common types of accidents and how to avoid them is key to preventing forklift injuries.
Forklifts are incredibly dense and heavy. When they tip over, they can cause an individual to get trapped underneath, where a person can suffer serious and even fatal injuries. Unfortunately, tipping happens a lot more than many people realize, as forklifts can easily become unbalanced when they are overloaded. Safety experts caution forklift operators to stay on the forklift if it starts tipping rather than attempting to jump off. The reason is that forklifts are built with roll bars designed to protect the occupant. If an operator tries to jump out of the way, he or she could get crushed by the forklift as it tips.
Another common type of forklift injury occurs when a forklift operator backs over or otherwise strikes a pedestrian. This can happen because a forklift operator was not paying attention to his or her surroundings, or because someone passing by was distracted and failed to see the forklift approaching.
Forklift operators can prevent these types of accidents from happening by always being aware of their surroundings, avoiding distractions like headphones or music, and never driving with an obstructed view.
Individuals Struck by Falling Objects
One of the main functions of a forklift is to place objects onto upper shelves. In many cases, a forklift is used to lift heavy or awkwardly shaped materials onto shelves. Operating a forklift requires experience and skill. When a forklift operator doesn’t have the training to do the job properly, items can shift and fall, striking either the forklift operator or someone else.
To stop these types of forklift injuries from occurring, forklift operators and others should check the forklift’s load before it’s transported or lifted. It’s important to make sure all materials are secure, so they don’t shift, tip, or fall.
Falls from a Forklift
Any time an operator is driving a forklift, he or she should be belted in. Like any other vehicle, a forklift should include a seat belt to make sure the operator doesn’t slide or slip out. It goes without saying that a forklift operator should be belted in and wearing all required safety equipment while operating a forklift.
Striking an Object While Driving
Forklift operators can also be injured when they strike an object while driving a forklift. This can happen due to debris on a warehouse floor or on the ground at a construction site. These types of accidents can also occur when the ground is slippery due to spilled liquid or bad weather. Forklift operators should always use caution when it comes to operating forklift. Make sure the path ahead is clear, and avoid operating a forklift when the ground is wet or icy, as forklifts can easily tip in these conditions.
What to Do After a Forklift Injury
Because the majority of forklift injuries happen in the workplace, it’s important for workers to do the proper steps to take after a forklift injury.
Report the Accident
You should always document the accident as soon as possible by reporting it to a supervisor or the appropriate person in your organization.
Get Medical Help
It’s also important to get medical treatment as soon as possible. Don’t delay getting medical care, as this could impact any compensation you may be entitled to receive.
Talk to a Construction Accident Lawyer
It’s also a good idea to speak to a construction accident lawyer. Your lawyer will explain your legal rights and help you determine the next steps in your case.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.
The NYC law firm of Jonathan C Reiter – NY Injury Attorney:: Is Experienced in Construction Accidents, Medical Malpractice & Wrongful Death Cases