The forklift, often known as the “workhorse” of the storage and construction industries, is invaluable for its ability to lift, transport, and unload heavy objects over short distances.
However, as with any large machinery, there are risks associated with its use. Whether a worker is hurt or goods are lost in an accident, every forklift accident shifts the focus on prevention.
How Many Forklift Injuries Happen Every Year?
Forklift trucks are one of the most common pieces of industrial equipment involved in workplace accidents. According to the (HSE) Health and safety executive, there are approximately 1300 forklift-related injuries each year all over the UK.
Injuries caused by forklift trucks can be serious and even fatal. In fact, OSHA reports that around 85 people are killed each year in forklift truck accidents.
Common Forklift Accidents
Some of the most common forklift accidents include:
A runover occurs when a forklift runs over someone, usually because the operator was not paying attention.
Collisions between two forklifts or a forklift and a worker can cause serious injuries.
A forklift that tips over can crush the operator or anyone standing nearby.
Caught in Between
This occurs when someone is crushed between two objects, such as the forklift and a pallet.
Reduce The Risks Of Forklift Accidents In Warehouses
There are several things that you can do to reduce the risks of accidents involving forklift trucks in your warehouse:
- Ensure that all employees who operate forklifts are properly trained and licensed.
- Inspect forklifts regularly to identify and correct any potential safety hazards.
- Make sure that the workspace is free of obstacles that could cause a forklift to tip over.
- Ensure that workers are aware of the dangers of working around forklifts and know how to stay safe.
- Make sure that the forklift operator is properly rested and sober before operating a forklift.
HSE (Health and Safety Executive) requires businesses to have a forklift safety training program for any operator, as it’s in their best interests to offer such education to all workers who work with forklifts.
It’s thought that by providing proper training, about 705 injuries can be prevented every year.
Inspection of the Forklift
Before a driver begins his shift, they should conduct routine safety inspections on the forklift.
Inspection can include:
- Check for leaks (fuel, hydraulic oil, engine oil, radiator coolant)
- Correct tire inflation
- Visual examination of the fork mechanism
- Clean hydraulic hoses
- Quality Engine belts.
If any problems are discovered during the inspection, they should be corrected before the forklift is driven.
Ensure a Clean and Well-Maintained Warehouse
A well-maintained warehouse is essential for preventing forklift truck accidents.
- The floors should be clean and free of obstacles
- The aisleways should be clear
- Forklifts should be properly stored when not in use
- Workers should be aware of the locations of all exits
- When a warehouse is clean and well-maintained, it is less likely that an accident will occur.
The key to minimizing forklift-related collisions is traffic management, which helps avoid such events by restricting the movement of people and goods.
Tape markings or guard rails can be used to create ‘no go’ areas for pedestrians and forklifts where appropriate, as can separate pedestrian and forklift paths.
Monitor Loading And Unloading Procedures
The procedure for loading and unloading forklifts should be monitored to ensure that they are being done safely.
- The load should be centered on the forks
- The load should not exceed the rated capacity of the forklift
- The operator should not stand under a suspended load
- After the load has been secured, it should be lowered to within reach of the operator
- Operators should avoid carrying loads up or downstairs
By monitoring the loading and unloading procedures, you can help prevent forklift truck accidents.
Who Is to Blame If A Forklift Accident Occurs?
When a forklift accident happens in the warehouse, the responsible parties can change based on which element of the catastrophe is deemed to be most responsible.
If the forklift driver causes the calamity, they are accountable for it. If an employer fails to adequately train their forklift drivers or fails to provide a safe working environment for them.
Eligibility For A Forklift Truck Accident Claim
If you have suffered from a forklift truck injury, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
The best way to find out is to speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. They will be able to advise you on whether you have a valid claim and will help you through the process of making a claim.
After an Accident, Gather Evidence
When a forklift accident happens at work, it must be recorded in an accident report book. By law, you are entitled to a copy. It might be useful in determining the date, time, and place of your forklift accident.
Taking pictures or videos of the accident site can assist in determining what occurred. This is especially important if anything has been changed after the incident.
Medical records from the hospital or minor injuries unit that cared for you can be obtained to help show what injuries you suffered and the treatment you received.
It’s critical to obtain an independent perspective on what occurred if your employer rejects responsibility for the forklift truck accident. As a result, you should seek information from anybody who witnessed the event.
If your forklift truck accident happened in a warehouse or workplace that used CCTV cameras, you should request a copy of any relevant film. However, keep in mind that this can be erased within hours or days, so act quickly to obtain a copy.