If you work in a California warehouse, distribution center, construction site or even the stock room of a large retail store, you know how much you depend on your forklift. A forklift allows you to stack and store items at much higher heights than you could reach on your own. This means your building can hold many more items, including heavy or bulky items that you can move around easily.
Unfortunately, along with the advantages of a heavy piece of machinery like a forklift comes the disadvantages. A forklift is one of the most dangerous tools a worker can use, resulting in nearly 100,000 injuries each year, about 85 of which are fatal. While you may take comfort in having workers' compensation to cover any injuries you suffer on the job, the best course of action is taking precautions to avoid accidents in the first place.
Are you at risk?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets strict guidelines on the use of forklifts because of the potential for injury. Most forklift accidents occur when the operator is not following those guidelines. If you use a forklift for hours each day, it may be easy to become complacent of the rules and careless in your actions. However, letting your guard down for even a moment can have catastrophic results, including the following types of accidents:
- Crushing someone between the forklift and the wall or other surface
- Catching a limb or other body part between two moving forklifts
- Striking or running over another employee with your forklift
- Suffering injuries from falling materials if your forklift loses its load or strikes a shelf
- Falling from a platform on the raised forks of your lift
- Tipping over onto someone, or onto you, if you are not using proper restraints
Tipping over is the most common fatal accident involving a forklift. About 42 percent of forklift fatalities result from this mishap, which may occur if you do not properly load your machine or if you use the wrong size forklift for the job.
According to OSHA, industries like yours can eliminate 70% of accidents involving forklifts if they implement adequate training and carry through with safety policies. This includes a careful, daily inspection of the safety equipment on each machine and a no-excuses enforcement of safety regulations.
Nevertheless, you may work with others who place your wellbeing at risk. If you should suffer injuries in a forklift accident, you will want to seek sound advice to ensure you are pursuing compensation from every available source.