Forklifts are frequently used at many workplaces and construction sites. While these powerful machines make it easier to get the job done, they also pose a risk for serious and sometimes fatal injuries, both to the operator and to others in the surrounding area. According to OSHA, approximately 85 fatalities occur each year as a result of forklift accidents.
The breakdown for the causes of fatalities associated with forklift accidents are as follows:
- Crushed by the forklift in a tipover – 42 percent
- Crushed between the forklift and a surface – 25 percent
- Crushed between the forklift and another vehicle – 11 percent
- Struck or run over by the forklift – 10 percent
- Struck by falling material – 8 percent
- Falling from a platform on the forks – 4 percent
Studies have shown that with better training, many of these accidents can be prevented. OSHA requires forklift drivers to be properly trained before they are allowed to operate these machines. Unfortunately, far too often operators don’t receive the required instruction.
Training can teach operators how to prevent a serious or fatal accident and how to handle the forklift if something goes wrong—including the top cause of fatal forklift accidents, a tipover. For many operators, the immediate reaction to a tipping machine is to jump off. This often puts the driver in the direct path of the falling machine and results in a crushing injury. If instead the driver stays on the forklift, which is what training teaches them to do, the resulting injuries are usually relatively minor.
Training also teaches forklift operators to keep the load as low as possible, which can help prevent tipovers. Keeping the safety belt secured at all times while operating the forklift is a simple step drivers can take that will counteract the tendency to jump if a tipover starts to happen.
Virginia construction injuries can be detrimental to both your physical and financial well-being. If you’ve sustained an injury while on the job that is preventing you from working, call Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas today to arrange a free consultation about your case so you can learn more about your options.