The most common type of forklift accident is a forklift overturn, also called a “rollover”. Forty-two percent of forklift accidents involve the victim being crushed or pinned by a forklift that tipped over, according to a report by OEA Safeguard, an industrial safety and equipment solutions company.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) corroborates this, reporting that forklift overturns are the leading cause of forklift fatalities, representing 25% of forklift-related deaths. NIOSH reports that nearly 100 people are killed in forklift accidents every year.
Other Common Types of Forklift Accidents
In addition to forklift rollovers, other types of common forklift accidents include:
- Workers on foot being struck or crushed between a forklift and another surface
- Falling from a forklift
- Being run over by a forklift
- Struck by a falling forklift
Workers being crushed between a forklift and another surface is responsible for 25% of forklift accidents. It is the second most common forklift accident.
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Why Do Forklift Accidents Happen?
There are 34,900 serious injury forklift accidents each year, according to the OEA Safeguard report. Forklift maintenance, safety equipment, and operation are all largely contributing factors to forklift accidents.
In cases where the forklift was overturned, the NIOSH reports that workers are often crushed by the overhead guard of the truck after jumping or falling from the operator’s seat. Their head and necks are usually pinned between the overhead guard and the ground.
A forklift tipping over has contributed to turning the forklift or not using proper operating procedures while driving it on an incline. Forklifts, especially those that are loaded, are prone to instability. Improper shifting of the weight can lead to disastrous consequences.
Falls from forklifts often occur when workers ride on the forks or use an elevated platform that is not secured to the forklift.
Safety Regulations for Forklift Operation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed safety standards for forklifts and other powered industrial trucks, per 29 CFR 1910.178.
Forklifts must be inspected before being placed in service each day. Issues with the machines must be reported and corrected immediately. When workers are using an elevated platform on the forks, a restraining device must be used, such as a rail or chain or body belt to help secure the worker.
OSHA requires forklift operators to be trained and licensed as well as evaluated for performance periodically. Operator training includes instruction for:
- Truck operation
- Loading the forklift
- Seat belts use
- Overhead protective structures
- Industrial truck maintenance
Further, retraining is required if a forklift operator is observed operating the truck using unsafe conduct or involved in an accident.
In addition to following OSHA’s regulations and general consensus standards, the NIOSH recommends the following actions be taken to reduce accidents due to overturn and falling from forklifts:
- Do not jump from the forklift operator’s seat in a sit down forklift. Instead, remain with the forklift, hold on tightly, and lean away from the point of impact.
- Use operator safety restraints. Many of the injuries and fatalities caused by overturned forklifts could be prevented if seat belts were utilized. A restraint prevents the operator from falling out of the forklift and reduces the chances of a driver jumping out. This reduces the chances of being crushed by the overhead guard once the forklift tips over.
- Ensure that any platform is properly secured when elevating personnel on a forklift.
- Train operators of stand-up type forklifts with rear-entry access to exit from the truck by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs.
- Do not handle loads that are heavier than the rated weight capacity of the forklift
- Operate the forklift at a speed that will permit it to be stopped safely.
- Do not use a forklift to elevate workers standing on the forks.
Get Compensation for Your Forklift Accident
If you or a loved one was injured in a workplace accident involving a forklift due to someone else, you are entitled to compensation. An industrial accident lawyer can help you file a workers’ compensation claim. In general, if your employer is negligent, you are only able to file a workers’ comp claim against him. However, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent manufacturer, equipment supplier, management company, or individual party if they are to blame for your forklift accident, construction accident, or other industrial accident.
You may be able to recover economic damages, including medical costs as well as damages for pain and suffering. If you lost a loved one due to a forklift accident, a lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
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Call Isaacs & Isaacs Free For Help in Your Forklift or Construction Accident
Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers is here for you if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a forklift accident in Kentucky, Ohio, or Indiana. Trust our lawyers to have your best interests in mind.
Depending on the state you live in, there will be different statutes of limitations. These are time limits in which you can pursue legal action. Call us to schedule a free case review before time runs out for your accident case.