One of the most useful machines in a number of industries, including construction, warehousing, and manufacturing, is the forklift. When used properly, a forklift can go a long way toward preventing a number of common workplace injuries by limiting the amount of lifting workers have to do. However, forklifts also carry a number of safety risks that everyone in the workplace should be fully aware of and properly trained for to prevent forklift injuries. The training should not just be reserved for forklift operators but should be required for everyone working in or near the area of the forklift as well.
Forklifts are potentially hazardous, causing 78 work-related deaths and 7,290 nonfatal injuries in 2020. Everyone in the workplace should understand these regulations, given that even some of the smallest ones weigh more than three tons, making them potentially deadly. For example, every forklift operator must be over age 18 and be specifically trained to operate this piece of heavy machinery. If a forklift operator is not properly trained and certified, injuries and death are nearly certain at some point.
Common Causes of Forklift Injuries
Speed is a major factor in many forklift accidents. An operator could move the forklift too quickly for the worksite conditions, weather conditions, or the volume of workers on the job site. Given that nearly one out of every five fatalities from a forklift accident involves a worker who was on foot, it is necessary that forklift operators be extra careful at intersections and blind spots, and that pathways for the forklift to travel on be clearly marked. A common reason many families need work injury lawyers is due to fatal accidents from work injuries such as forklift injuries. All workers on the job site should be properly trained to avoid being hit by the forklift and risking serious injuries or death.
The most common cause of death in forklift accidents is from a forklift tipping over. Many things can cause a forklift to tip over, including an improperly secured or poorly positioned load or a load that is way too heavy for the forklift. Forklift injuries also can occur if the machine tips over while on an incline or if an operator turns the forklift too quickly. Another common cause of forklift injuries is falling. No one but an operator should ride on a forklift unless there is an extra seat for a passenger; and, forklifts should never be used to lift people unless they are equipped with an approved lifting cage.
Other common causes of forklift injuries include:
- Hitting or Running Over Bystanders – Pedestrians and other construction workers often walk around forklifts without the correct signage to make others aware the forklift is in operation. For example, tape may be missing on floors, which usually signals others to stay away from the forklift area.
- Knocking Off a Pallet, Tipping Racking – If a pallet is difficult for a driver to see, they may accidentally knock the pallet off of the rack it is being stored on. This can injure anyone standing nearby or even the driver themself. This issue also damages racking, which can be expensive to repair.
- Forklift Overturns – Forklift overturns can be caused by improper turning, turning too quickly, or driving with an elevated and extra heavy load. If a forklift tips over, it could hurt both the operator and any workers nearby.
Federal law and Texas law guarantee all workers a safe place to work; and, all parties – including prime contractors, subcontractors, business owners, and property owners, as well as the manufacturers of forklifts and those who service them – have a duty to ensure the safe operation of a forklift at every worksite where one is used.
Types of Workplace Forklift Injuries
Causes of forklift injuries include being caught in the equipment, struck by the vehicle, falls, injuries involving pedestrians, and vehicular accidents. This is why it is vital for every worker who will be around forklifts – not just the forklift operator – to have extensive safety training on working around forklifts.
Common forklift injuries can include but are not limited to:
- Head Injuries – Objects being transported by forklifts can fall off and land on top of bystanders; and, if they are heavy enough or dropped with enough force, even a hardhat won’t provide sufficient protection. Depending on the object, those hits can suffer from a concussion, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or internal bleeding in the head, among other head injuries.
- Repetitive Motion Pain – Sitting for long periods and feeling the vibrations of the forklift underneath you can take a toll on an operator’s body, causing joint pain where repetitive motions take place and/or on the back where straining can occur.
- Whiplash – This injury often occurs when an operator is driving quickly and must slam on the brakes, injuring the neck muscles.
- Broken Bones and Wounds – Serious bodily injury, like broken or crushed limbs, spinal cord injuries, puncture wounds, and/or blunt force trauma can occur when the driver is ejected from the forklift or in the event that it tips over onto another worker. These types of accidents can often be fatal.
Forklift injuries can be extremely severe, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and even wrongful death. Many forklift accident injuries can be life-altering. If you or a loved one were injured on the job in a forklift accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover financial compensation and other damages. The workplace injury attorneys at Liggett Law Group have the experience, resources, and skills to make sure you and your loved ones recover everything you’re entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can evaluate your situation and help you protect your rights.