Forklifts have become essential pieces of equipment in many workplaces in California. If you are a forklift operator, it is your employer's responsibility to protect your safety. Many of the thousands of lift truck-related accidents that occur each year involve inadequately trained operators. Your employer must ensure that you receive training in the operation of each machine you operate.
It is also your employer's responsibility to inform you of the hazards you will face and how to mitigate them. Although forklift accidents can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries, you should not lose sight of the many common injuries that can burden you with medical expenses and lost wages.
Common forklift injuries
If you follow prescribed safety regulations, you can prevent most injuries. However, accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and you might fall victim to any of the following injuries:
- Falls: Be aware of the maximum load allowed on your forklift because an overload can cause it to tip over. It will throw you from the machine, and typical injuries include sprains or strains of your joints, shoulder dislocation or fracture, head trauma and more.
- Whiplash: Head-on collisions with other vehicles or even stationary objects, unexpected acceleration and sudden stops can cause a whiplash movement of your head and neck. Just like in car accidents, these can leave you with traumatic brain injuries, such as a concussion, and other soft tissue injuries in your neck and upper spine.
- Head trauma: The list of causes of potential head injuries is endless, and wearing a hard hat is crucial. Dropped objects from shelves or other elevated areas, hitting your head when you climb in or out of your cockpit, ejection and striking your head are but some of the possible ways in which you could suffer head injuries.
- Pinched fingers: Never work without safety gloves because the lack of safety guards, untangling stuck pallets and many other actions can cause pinched fingers. It might cause only blisters, but broken bones and other injuries to your hands could keep you off work for some time.
- Foot injuries: Your feet are always vulnerable, and steel-toe safety boots can prevent severe injuries. You could suffer foot injuries while climbing in and out of your forklift, or a distracted co-worker on another lift truck could run over your foot.
Along with the perils of potential carbon monoxide poisoning if you work in areas with inadequate ventilation, these are but some of the common injuries that frequently lead to workers' compensation insurance claims.
How can you speed up your benefits claim?
If you have to deal with the consequences of a forklift-related injury, you might be unsure of the next steps and how to deal with the legal and administrative requirements of filing a benefits claim with the California workers' compensation insurance program. This is where the skills of an experienced attorney come in. The lawyer can navigate the benefits claims process while you focus on recovering and getting back to work as soon as possible.