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Take Time to Focus on Forklift Safety

By Grant Law Office on November 25, 2019

worker driving a yellow forklift

Christmas lists, Black Friday shopping, and warehouse accidents seem to go together hand in hand. As a mad dash comes into retail stores, heavy machinery and seasonal workers combine behind the scenes to get the product out and ship the gifts on time. Injuries can and do happen. However, this shouldn’t be the case.

“Whether employees are stocking shelves, packing boxes, delivering products, or selling merchandise, they have the right to a safe workplace,” said Loren Sweatt, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “Employers should focus on their responsibility to protect all employees during the busy holiday season.”

Especially when it comes to forklifts, which are more likely to cause fatalities when accidents occur. Though they account for a fraction of workplace accidents, they claim around 85 lives every year. Our forklift accident lawyers want to share the following information.

What Is a Forklift – and How Can It Go Wrong?

Powered industrial trucks, usually known as forklifts or lift trucks, are used to move heavy loads – to raise, lower, and transport boxes, pallets, and crates. They may be ridden by operator or controlled remotely. The definition excludes on-road haulage trucks or earth-moving equipment modified with forks. And they are lethal, in the hands of an inexperienced operator.

Most forklift injuries take place in the manufacturing, construction, transportation, wholesale, and retail trades. They are caused by:

  • Forklift rolled over on victim
  • Victim crushed between forklift and surface
  • Victim crushed between forklift and another vehicle
  • Victim struck or run over by a forklift
  • Victim struck by load falling from forklift
  • Victim fell from an elevated platform on the forks

These vehicles are usually around 9,000 pounds; three times the weight of the average vehicle. They only have brakes on two wheels, so they cannot stop as quickly. Worst of all, an estimated 70% of forklift accidents are preventable. Here are  ways OSHA advises employers to do a better job to protect their workers.

OSHA’s Quick Tips for Forklifts

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates the use of forklifts on jobsites at the federal level. Forklift operators must be certified and trained before sitting down behind the controls, and it’s the employer’s job to ensure this training has taken place. Refreshers are also a good idea.

  • Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions, and obey them.
  • Wear a seatbelt if the forklift has one.
  • Never exceed the rated load (amount of weight approved for the vehicle).
  • Evenly distribute the load on the forklift before moving.
  • Only raise or lower the forks when you are at a standstill.
  • Keep a safe distance between the platform and the ramp edges.
  • Slow down and sound the horn at places where cross traffic may meet.
  • Have clear visibility of the work area, and make sure you have clearance before moving – use a spotter if necessary.
  • Watch for pedestrians and obey the speed limit.
  • Do not give rides or use the forks to carry people.
  • Forklifts should be inspected and maintained regularly.
  • Keep forklifts clean and free from grease.
  • Post warnings signs in areas commonly traveled by forklifts.

If an employer fails to ensure these things, or skips another safety regulation, that employer can be held liable in a lawsuit to the victim and family. If an employer forces a non-certified worker to operate a forklift, that employer can be held liable if anyone else is injured. Speak to a top Atlanta personal injury law firm to find out if you have a case.

Grant Law Office Can Help You

Grant Law Office recently handled two forklift injury cases, both with seven-figure outcomes. We understand these accidents and know what is required of employers and forklift operators.

If your loved one was killed in a forklift accident, you can seek compensation for the “full value” of your loved one’s life – not just lost income, but emotional damages as well. A seasoned lawyer will be able to help you review and compile the evidence and make a strong claim. A trial lawyer will make the insurance company sit up and take notice.

Heading into this holiday season, Atlanta’s Grant Law Office sincerely hopes you and your family never need our services. But if you do, please do not hesitate to call (404) 995-3955 for a free consultation.

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*Wayne Grant has been practicing law since 1979. Grant Law Office was founded in 2000.