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Preventing forklift accidents in the workplace

Pennsylvania residents know that there is widespread use of industrial trucks to transport materials. Lift trucks, rider trucks and forklifts are often seen at worksites statewide. Some workers who operate this machinery or work near it are injured every year due to unsafe work conditions.

Statistics show that almost 20,000 workers are injured and nearly 100 workers are killed in forklift accidents in the United States each year. Almost 25 percent of these accidents are due to forklift overturns. Sometimes the forklift falls between the dock and an unsecured trailer, or falls when it is on elevated tines and pallets. Sometimes workers near operating forklifts suffer injuries after being hit by them.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s research showed that many people who operate forklifts or work near them are not aware of the dangers. Lack of training or safety enforcement and no safe operating procedures contribute to most forklift-related accidents.

To reduce worksite accidents, an employer may ensure that forklift operators are competent enough to operate the machine. Also, workers should be informed of the hazards related a workplace with operating forklifts. The employer may also ensure that the vehicle has been inspected and maintained regularly along with general and regular safety inspections of the workplace itself.

OSHA has established certain guidelines that should be followed when operating forklifts. A forklift driver should be 18 years of age or older and should have been trained and certified for the work. A written forklift safety program must be in place as required by OSHA. If any law is not followed by the employer, the employee can notify OSHA and other regulatory agencies. OSHA may penalize the negligent employer for the violation. An injured worker may claim damages from the employer for losses caused by a workplace accident.

Source:, “Forklift Safety Awareness,” Accessed Aug. 11, 2014


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