Workplace safety is a serious concern for all professions. However, workers who use, or are near, heavy machinery during a shift must be especially diligent about following best practices for workplace safety. Heavy machinery, like forklifts, are found in a variety of employment settings. This equipment may only make up 1% of all accidents that occur in factories or warehouses, but forklifts are also responsible for 10% of all physical injuries that take place.
OSHA data estimates that 35,000 serious injuries and 62,000 non-serious injuries involving forklifts occur annually. Further, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 96 U.S. workers were killed in incidents involving forklifts in 2015. A commitment to safety begins with proper training. Statistics show that an untrained forklift operator can be as dangerous as an unlicensed driver of a motor vehicle. OSHA’s Powered Industrial Trucks Standard – 29 CFR 1910.178 – establishes that “the employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation” outlined in the standard.
Employers should take great care in enforcing forklift safety measures, and employees should remain vigilant around these potentially dangerous pieces of equipment. Here are just a few safety measures that should be in place at factories, warehouses, or other workplaces.
Just as in a regular vehicle, seat belts are an important piece of the forklift safety puzzle. If you happen to work with, or around, forklifts, it is imperative that you buckle up while in the driver’s seat.
Get the right training
Not everyone can drive a forklift, no matter how easy it may initially seem. Forklift drivers must be at least 18 years of age and have completed extensive training on the machinery. Even if someone is trained to use a forklift, each lift is a bit different; there should be plenty of time to practice with the lift in order for the driver to become comfortable. Of note, an unloaded lift truck’s center of gravity – where the weight has equal concentration – typically is higher than that of a personal vehicle. Lift trucks are more prone to tipping over – loaded or not – and have varying stability.
Keep the machine operational
As with any piece of equipment, forklifts need to be evaluated regularly for safe operation. If you notice a problem with a forklift you are operating, report it immediately so that it can be repaired.
Know what to do in case of accident
If you, or someone you work with, is injured due to a forklift accident, get help immediately and file any pertinent reports with your employer. Then, find a lawyer who can assure that you are getting the compensation that you deserve while you heal from your injury.
The team at O’Brien Law has years of experience working with clients who were injured at work. Forklift injuries are not new to our caseload, and we are honored to represent you during this challenging time. Give us a call to tell us more about your situation so that we can best advise you.