Forklift mishaps, unfortunately, occur on a fairly common basis. OSHA has statistics that show nearly 35,000 serious injuries occur annually, as a result of forklift incidents. Over 61,800 minor injuries occur, but the saddest fact is that around 100 deaths occur each year. Most of these tragedies are preventable.

Causes of Forklift Mishaps

One of the main causes of forklift-related accidents is lack of proper training. When forklift drivers have not been properly or adequately trained, people can get hurt, including the forklift driver. Tip-overs are caused by an unbalanced center of gravity. The operator needs to know what the maximum load is for the forklift and make sure the load is properly situated. When the load is top-heavy, too far forward on the forks or not balanced adequately, the forklift could tip over.

Accidents with pedestrians contribute to the statistics. Usually, a pedestrian is involved in a forklift accident when the operator does not have adequate visibility. Pedestrians may also be unaware of the forklift being operated nearby, and that lack of awareness can lead to an accident.

Avoiding Forklift Accidents

Proper training on how to use a forklift is paramount in helping to avoid forklift mishaps. For operators who have been handling forklifts for a long time, a refresher course may be in order. OSHA has a regulation regarding refresher courses; if the operator has been involved in an accident, is changing to a different forklift, has been observed operating the forklift in an unsafe manner or if conditions change in the workplace, the operator needs to take a refresher course. Proper training could possibly eliminate as much as 25 percent of forklift accidents.

Even though time is of the essence in most situations, speeding with a forklift is a top cause for accidents. OSHA recommends drivers stay at or below 5 miles per hour. Speeding can be tempting, but it’s not worth getting hurt or hurting someone else. Improper turning is another problem that causes accidents. Turning too sharply can cause the vehicle to tip over.

In addition to slowing down, OSHA recommends loads be kept to 4 inches from the floor. Elevated loads not only obstruct vision, but they can also make the vehicle top–heavy, and ripe for a tip over.

Warning lights and/or sounds can also be used to help warn pedestrians that the forklift is near. Stopping at intersections and blowing a horn will alert pedestrians. Special add-ons like these are available for vehicles that don’t have them. These devices, along with proper training, can make a world of difference when it comes to avoiding forklift mishaps.

The law firm of Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., can also make a world of difference when you are faced with a personal injury case. Our legal expertise in this area is excellent. We provide you with a free initial consultation. If you live in the communities of Port Charlotte, North Port, Englewood or the southwest Florida area, contact us for assistance with your personal injury case.