A normal workday turned tragic for a New York City gourmet foods warehouse worker. The experienced forklift driver was working alone during a meal break when he leaned out of the machine, perhaps to get a better line of sight around his load. In doing so, his head got caught between metal shelving and the forklift. The 43-year old worker suffered severe head trauma as a result of the forklift accident and died at a nearby hospital.
Forklift Injuries Are a Common Workplace Accident
There are far too many forklift accidents – most of which are preventable – at work locations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), each year there is an average of 85 forklift fatalities and almost 35,000 serious injuries in the U.S.
Driving a forklift is not the same as driving a car. First of all, forklifts use rear-wheel steering because the front wheels are bearing the cargo load. The driver must not take turns too quickly, as this may lead to either a spilled load or a tip-over. 42% of forklift fatalities are due to crushing under a tipped forklift.
Another major difference is that large loads on the forklift often obscure the driver’s vision, and so operators frequently drive backward for better visibility. Operators must constantly monitor the environment for pedestrians, other vehicles and potential hazards.
Operators must have proper training and drive these heavy machines cautiously, avoiding:
· Excessive speed
· Riding with the load in an improper position such as elevated
· Improper backing up, turning, braking or parking techniques
· Poor or inadequate vehicle warnings or communications
But operator error is not the only cause of forklift accidents. Other contributing factors are:
· Lack of training
· Production pressure
· Lack of proper tools
· Aging equipment
· Poor maintenance
The environment itself can also contribute to an accident. Narrow or cluttered aisles, traffic volume, uncontrolled pedestrian traffic, excessive noise, poor lighting and ramp surfaces are workplace design attributes that can increase the risk of an accident. Hazards like poorly-stacked or worn-out pallets, or loads that are too heavy or that block the operator’s vision, can lead to debilitating injuries and even death.
As the New York City warehouse accident demonstrates, even a forklift operator with 20 years of experience can fall victim to a forklift accident. OSHA contends that 70% of workplace accidents can be avoided with proper safety procedures and training.
We Can Help If You Have Been Injured at Work
If you or a family member has been harmed by a car accident, truck accident, construction accident, slip and fall or any other type of personal injury, please contact StolzenbergCortelli, LLC Attorneys at Law immediately. Please call us for a free consultation. Attorneys Howard Stolzenberg and Terrence James Cortelli, personal injury attorneys in White Plains, Nyack and New York City, will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at 800-494-0889 or contact us via the website.