Workers across a variety of occupations heavily rely on the power of forklifts to assist and complete day-to-day job duties. When operated correctly and regularly maintained and inspected, forklifts can be beneficial to workers with their ability to lift and move heavy items over distances. Unfortunately, heavy machinery in many warehouses, jobsites, and fabrication shops across Texas is not always well maintained. Furthermore, adequate and quality safety training is not always accessible to all workers. As a result, forklifts become dangerous machines with the ability to inflict catastrophic injuries and even cause a workplace wrongful death.
Common Forklift Accidents
Workplace accidents resulting from forklifts are more common than people realize and are increasing in frequency. According the National Safety Council (NSC), workplace accidents involving a forklift were responsible for inflicting 7,940 severe injuries to workers and causing 85 fatalities in 2018 alone, which represented an increase over the previous year. This rise in fatal forklift accident stands as a testament to the significant need for training to operate not only forklifts but other heavy machinery as well.
Workers tasked to operate machinery for which they are not properly trained are at significant risk of injury or death; and, the risks apply not only to themselves but also to all workers in the proximity of the forklift.
Forklift Safety Tips
Employers who conduct business that requires workers to interact with heavy machinery and materials are obligated to provide their employees with a hazard-free environment and to not add to the dangers that already exist in many occupations and industries. Part of providing a safe work environment for employees is providing safety and operational training in a language the worker understands.
Workers can take the following additional steps to protect themselves:
- Perform regular and routine inspections of the forklift before operation and follow company protocol when reporting an issue to management.
- Always wear adequate personal protective equipment such as hardhats and goggles.
- Always wear a seatbelt when operating or riding in a forklift. Wearing a seatbelt can save workers from being crushed by a machine’s overhead guard or roll cage in the event of an accident, as well as secure workers in the event of a rollover. Rollovers are among the leading causes of forklift-related injuries and fatalities.
- Forklifts are designed to handle a certain amount of weight in order to properly operate. Workers should check and follow cargo restrictions with each load to help keep forklifts stable.
- Workers must maintain speeds that reflect the work they are performing. For example, this means a forklift carrying a large load should not be driven at full speed, as it is more likely to crash, rollover, or collapse, any one of which could cause a workplace fatality.
- Set the parking brake, lower the forks, and set any controls to neutral when finished operating. Safely parked machines reduce the risk of unintended movement when left unattended.
Houston Workplace Accident Attorneys
All workers – regardless of occupation – deserve the right to a safe workplace free of hazards. Companies are required by federal law to implement safety standards that support workers’ safety. Despite this, however, companies continue to fail employees by failing to provide appropriate personal protective equipment, safety and operations training, and machinery and equipment maintenance. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a workplace accident, contact the Houston workplace accident attorneys at Adame Garza for a free and confidential case consultation.