A staple at most construction work sites and warehouses, statistics show that the use of forklifts result in the injuries of nearly 100,000 workers in the U.S. each year. The causes of and circumstances that lead to many of these accidents are preventable and rectifiable and employers would be wise to take steps to implement better safety protocols with regard to the use of forklifts.
Accidents involving any motor vehicle including a forklift are more likely to occur when vehicles and pedestrians share the same work space. In cases where a forklift operator is zooming around a warehouse and fails to see a pedestrian, a pedestrian may be struck or backed over. Accidents involving pedestrians and forklifts often result in a pedestrian suffering serious and disabling injuries and even death.
To prevent these types of accidents, employers would be wise to ensure that forklifts are equipped with warning sounds that alert pedestrians of their whereabouts as well as backup cameras. Additionally, separate pedestrian and motor vehicle routes should be established with safely crosswalks to maintain distance between and limit the frequency with which pedestrians and forklifts cross paths.
It's also imperative that forklift operators receive proper and adequate training prior to being able to drive such equipment. In addition to learning the basic maneuvering techniques, an operator should also understand the safety implications of overloading a forklift and should not be allowed to wear headphones or engage in any other activities that may distract a his or her attention from the important task at hand.
Other forklift injuries may result from a forklift that isn't properly maintained. If all components aren't regularly inspected and maintained, a forklift could malfunction or may emit toxic levels of carbon emissions.
Employers at construction sites, industrial facilities and warehouses face many responsibilities and challenges with regard to keeping workers safe. Among these challenges are ensuring for the safety of pedestrians and the drivers and operators of motor vehicles and equipment.
Source: Safety and Health Magazine, "Stay safe around forklifts," Amy Ahn, Aug. 25, 2015