Operating a forklift can be extremely dangerous. In fact, forklifts are involved in more than 100,000 accidents each year in the United States alone. Forklift accidents happen and it’s why OSHA is so hot on compliance and forklift safety.
Each year OSHA publishes the Top 10 most frequently cited violations and Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) are always on the list. Taking a look at the OSHA’s TOP 10 most cited violations for FY 2021, Power Industrial Truck violations came in at number 9.
Let’s look at 7 recent 2021 forklift accidents that resulted in death…and in some cases multiple deaths. These forklift warehouse accidents are defined as serious when reviewing OSHA forklift accident statistics. In no particular order:
On April 2021, Employee #1 and Employee #2 started to remove the 28 bolts required to remove two multipiece rimmed forklift tires from a forklift truck . Neither of the tires was deflated before the employees started removing the bolts. After most of the bolts had been removed, the tires exploded out of the axel striking and killing both Employee #1 and Employee #2.
State: America Samoa | Penalty: $18,432
On April 2021, an employee forklift operator was operating a Forklift in reverse while picking an order. His scanner dropped into the operator’s compartment and he reached down to get it accidentally turning and hitting a cross beam in the process. The employee was pinned between the cross beam and the PIV. He suffered multiple blunt force injuries and later died.
State: Texas | Penalty: $8,550
In May 2021, an employee was walking from one dry kiln to another dry kiln. Forklifts were picking up and transporting lumber to trucks to be hauled off at the same time. A forklift operator was driving a Hyster 300 forklift in the area and did not notice the employee who was on the left rear side of the forklift. The forklift operator proceeded to back up with a load of lumber and the employee was struck by the left rear tire of the forklift. The employee later died from these injuries after being transported to the hospital.
State: South Carolina | Penalty: $9,000
On May 2021, an employee was pushing a heat seal equipment through drop curtains. An employee was operating a forklift traveling through the drop curtains. A coworker was on the opposite side of the drop curtains pushing a heat sealer unit towards the drop curtains and forklift driver. The forklift struck the heat sealer unit that then struck the employee causing unspecified injuries.
State: Pennsylvania | Penalty: $13,653
In May 2021, an employee operated an all-terrain Forklift (Pettibone lift) with a Grout Hog cement mortar dispenser attached. While positioning the vehicle, the left side tires slipped into a footer ditch and the vehicle rolled over. The employee, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the cab and the cab frame landed on top of the employee, who received crushing injuries and was killed.
State: Ohio | Penalty: $27,306
On May 14, 2021, an employee was operating the Toyota forklift at a tire recycling facility with a hippo hopper attached to the forks. The employee was using the forklift to move tire refuse to refuse container and had the mast to the upper limit of travel.
The employee then drove the forklift and made a couple of turns and while turning to the left with the hopper elevated, the forklift tipped over onto the right side, and the employee was pinned between the forklift and the ground. The employee was killed from the crushing injuries from the forklift truck.
State: Wisconsin | Penalty: $19,114
In June 2021, an employee was operating a forklift moving a bask of metal parts. He moved the forklift next to the metal baskets when he became pinned between the forklift and the baskets. The employee was extracted by first responders and transported to the hospital, where he was reported to have been killed by compression asphyxia.
State: Illinois | Penalty: $8,778
According to studies, many of these incidents might have been prevented with better training. There is no such thing as a person that comes into a workplace knowing how to operate a forklift safely if they haven’t received appropriate training.
OSHA requires drivers to be properly educated on how to operate forklifts. The takeaway is that operating a forklift without adequate training is hazardous and prone to fatalities.
Under ideal conditions, training can help avoid or alleviate the impact of a lift truck’s instability when transporting an elevated load. To improve vehicle stability and prevent tip-over accidents, keep the load as low as feasible.
The typical tendency when a forklift tip-over occurs is for someone to jump downward, leading to the driver falling to the floor or ground – usually directly into the path of the overhead guard. The most typical result in this situation is a head, neck, or back injury caused by the overhead guard striking the employee.
The majority of forklifts fatalities are caused by the operator attempting to leap from a tipping vehicle in the direction of the tip-over. To mitigate, always keep the load as low as feasible and stay with the vehicle if it begins to tip over to prevent this from happening to you. The best safety precaution is to wear your seat belt!
Forklift accidents are preventable. Only allow experienced operators to drive forklifts. Don’t let anyone on a forklift who doesn’t have proper training and experience, has been drinking, or is fatigued due to lack of sleep or illness.
We hope these tips help prevent forklift accidents in the future!
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