HOW COMMON IS A SERIOUS FORKLIFT ACCIDENT?

These material transport vehicles are used all over the country in a variety of industries. They are found in warehouses, at construction sites, in industrial plants, on oil rigs, and anywhere heavy material needs maneuvering. Unfortunately, their compact size, extreme power and high maneuverability means they cause a number of serious and fatal incidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that these vehicles are responsible for several thousand injuries and crashes every year.

WHAT COMMONLY CAUSES A FORKLIFT ACCIDENT?

During operation, all safety measures must be observed, or workers will be at risk. OSHA maintains a lengthy list of safety regulations that all employers must follow, and when an injury occurs, it is usually due to these regulations not being followed.

According to OSHA, about 25 percent of all incidents are due to workers overloading the vehicle and causing it to tip over. This can pin a worker under the tines or cause substantial material to tumble onto people standing nearby. Tipping can also put the driver, who may be flung from the vehicle or thrown around inside the driver cabin, at risk of injury.

Around 20 percent of incidents involve the driver striking a worker who is on foot. That can happen when there are blind spots in the working area or when personnel don’t clearly mark driving paths for pedestrians.

Material falling off the vehicle accounts for 15 percent of injuries, and this frequently happens when not properly securing a load. Another 15 percent of injuries result from workers falling off the holding platform. Occasionally, these vehicles are used to carry workers and allow them to access higher areas. Workers must secure themselves with fall protection during this process. If fall protection is not available or workers don’t use it, they can suffer severe injuries.

Vehicle crashes can also occur if the workspace is not properly designed for these vehicles (such as the driving lanes being too narrow) or if a worker does not correctly estimate the distance between a loading dock and a trailer.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE WHEN A FORKLIFT ACCIDENT OCCURS?

When an injury occurs, the worker’s employer will be responsible for providing workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is only one option available to an injured worker. A victim may consider a suit against other contractors at the site, facility managers or owners and forklift part manufacturers. Each of these parties are responsible for the worker’s safety to some extent, and if unsafe work practices exist at the job site, or if the vehicle suffers a malfunction, there may be several parties liable for damages.

HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY ASSIST A WORKER HURT IN AN INCIDENT?

An injury lawyer determines the merits of a victim’s case and generates an appropriate demand package for the victim’s injuries. With their experience handling workplace injury cases, an attorney will be able to anticipate any challenges during the case and adapt to them accordingly. This targeted approach will improve a victim’s chance of securing a favorable settlement or trial outcome.