Forklift Accidents

About 855,900 forklifts are used around the country at this time, according to a report by the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). In Walnut Creek, CA, and across the nation, forklifts are used to move stacks of materials around warehouses, plants and businesses. There is plenty of opportunity for accidents to happen; the ITA estimates that roughly 90% of these forklifts will be in an accident sometime during their useful life span of around 8 years.

Fatal accidents involving forklifts also happen to about 85 persons a year, says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). An additional 34,900 persons suffer severe injuries in forklift accidents every year. Tipping over is the major reason for 42% of forklift accidents that result in a construction accident personal injury lawsuit. Unbalanced loading and inexperience driving and operating the forklifts contributes to the accident rates. Under Federal law, operators of a forklift must be over the age of 18 years, and they must have been trained and certified prior to operating the machines.

Types of Forklift Accidents

These machines are handy for moving heavy objects around a construction site, warehouse, plant, store and for loading or unloading transportation vehicles. They can maneuver well in tight spots, turn corners and travel quickly around a workplace. When workers are not careful to adhere to recommendations for weight and load limits, or if they are horsing around on the job, accidents happen.

  • Overloading weight limits causes most forklift accidents
  • Hitting other employees or passersby
  • Loads that fall off the forklift cause harm
  • Using a forklift to elevate people instead of cargo
  • Accidentally driving a forklift off a loading dock
  • Poor maintenance that results in brake, steering, transmission or hydraulic system failures
  • Missing safety devices
  • Poor workplace design or visibility and obstructions
  • Operator error or loss of control
  • Improper use, horseplay

Workplace Hazards Cause Forklift Accidents

Many factors contribute to forklift accident rates. The layout of a warehouse can be difficult for forklift operators to maneuver around if aisles and turns are too narrow or restricted. Lack of visibility can cause collisions between forklifts, obstructions, structures, other vehicles or pedestrians. If an operator is not paying attention or otherwise makes an operational error, an accident can happen quickly.

Lack of training and understanding of potential hazards can lead to accidents in the workplace. In a construction zone, there can be many obstacles that a forklift driver must pay attention to. Any slight miscalculation or error in judgment can create a hazardous situation.

Safety Issues and Forklifts

Not following recommended safety rules, maintenance and regulations at the workplace contributes to forklift accidents and injuries.

  • Lack of service and maintenance of the vehicle
  • Poor communication when multiple forklifts are in use or too close together in a shared space
  • Giving others rides on the forklift or its load
  • Improper moves when backing up or turning the equipment and load
  • Failure to warn others about having a forklift in use in the area
  • Improper parking
  • Failure to properly block the wheels when forklift is on a semi-trailer or railway car
  • Poor driving skills or horseplay, stunt driving

Safety Training for Forklift Operators

In addition to Federal law that makes it illegal to operate a forklift if a person is under age 18, any company using forklifts should be sure that operators are adequately trained to operate the forklift and that they are taught safe operation of the machinery. One reason driving a forklift is more difficult and different than driving other vehicles it that forklifts feature rear wheel steering. A safety check should be done by the operator prior to using the forklift to make sure there are no defects and that all systems and controls work properly, such as the horn, lights and to ensure that tires are properly inflated. Additional tips for safe operation of forklifts have been published online by Forklift Safety.org, and by OSHA.

Injury accidents and fatalities that happen from use of forklift trucks cause bodily harm and financial strain to families. If you or a loved one was injured in a forklift accident, get legal representation from our personal injury lawyers. Our Walnut Creek, CA, experienced attorneys know local courts and the laws pertaining to workplace injuries. Understanding the hazards presented by forklift operation may be very helpful to you in pursuing your case. Call today for your free consultation and to discuss the best course of legal action you have available.  Act quickly to stay within any applicable statute of limitations for your case.