While the average American hasn’t actually driven or used a forklift, which is also known as a powered industrial truck, they could identify one on sight. While it’s common knowledge that forklifts can be very useful when it comes to lifting and moving heavy materials, what’s not commonly known is that it can be very dangerous to work in and around forklifts. 

Common Accidents Involving Forklifts

The following are some of the most common accidents that occur involving forklifts: 

Falling Off Of Loading Docks 

Although no one wants to purposefully drive off of a loading dock, this accident happens on a regular basis. Drivers misjudge the distance between the forklift and the edge of the dock and the next thing that happens is this heavy piece of machinery goes over the edge, potentially causing great harm to both the person inside and anyone who happens to be nearby. 

Falls Between A Dock And Unsecured Trailer 

Trailers that are being loaded need to be secured so that they don’t move during the process, otherwise, a forklift could be caught between the dock and trailer. 

Workers Are Struck By A Forklift 

It’s not always easy to see who is working around a forklift which is why it’s important for anyone on the ground to be aware of the direction the machine is moving in. If hit by a forklift, pedestrians can be killed. 

Falling Load Accidents 

All forklifts have a maximum amount of weight that they can lift and if that weight is exceeded, the machine could tip or the load could be dropped, potentially harming those around the lift. 

Electrocution 

When a metal forklift comes into contact with a live wire, anyone touching the forklift can be electrocuted.

OSHA Safety Standards Regarding Forklifts 

The Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) has a set of regulations in regards to forklifts. These regulations cover a wide variety of topics including the types of forklifts which may be used depending on the industry, how fuels need to be stored, and even labeling. 

Just a few examples of these regulations include: 

  • No one under the age of 18 may operate a forklift. forklift used to lift materials
  • All new forklifts purchased by a company must meet the design and construction standards in the “American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969”.
  • Modifications cannot be made to the forklift without the written approval of the manufacturer. 
  • Electrically powered units must have safeguards against fire hazards. 
  • Forklifts may not be used in an environment that has hazardous concentrations of metal dust, including aluminum, magnesium, and their commercial alloys, other metals of similarly hazardous characteristics, or in atmospheres containing carbon black, coal or coke dust unless approved forklifts that have been designed for that purpose. 
  • Only forklifts that are approved and designated as DS, DY, ES, EE, EX, GS, or LPS may be used where ignitable fibers are stored or handled. 

As was stated, these are just a few of the examples of the regulations that exist. Employers are responsible for reading and knowing these regulations and for providing employees with proper training. 

Injuries Workers Regularly Sustain In Forklift Accidents 

When someone is in a forklift and an accident occurs, common injuries that are diagnosed at the hospital include: 

Burns 

If electrocution occurs or an explosion, burns are likely. Burns comes in degrees, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Depending on the severity of the burn, months of hospitalization may be required and the likelihood of complications due to infection is high. 

In addition to the required medical care, burns have a long-lasting impact on a patient due to the incredible pain that is caused and the scarring that is left behind. 

Broken Bones 

Any bone can be broken and if the break is bad enough, that bone can cause further damage to surrounding tissue, muscle, and nerves. Depending on the break and the additional damage, a broken bone can take months to treat and can keep a patient from returning to work for months. 

Joint Injuries 

Damage to a joint can result in lifelong pain, arthritis, and a limited range of motion. Multiple surgeries may be required to fix the injury. 

Traumatic Brain Injury 

Brain injuries come in two varieties, closed and open. In a closed brain injury, the skull and tissue remain intact, however, that doesn’t mean that the tissue isn’t’ damaged. Bruising and bleeding can occur that may result in tissue death. This damage can result in memory loss, chronic headache, difficulty speaking, issues with vision, and other disruptive symptoms. 

An open brain injury is when the skull is broken and the tissue of the brain penetrated with either a piece of the skull or a foreign object. 

Spinal Cord Damage 

Damage to the spinal cord can result in constant numbness, tingling, burning sensation, partial paralysis, or total paralysis. 

The cost of the medical care needed to treat any one of these injuries is immense and an injured forklift worker shouldn’t have to handle the burden of these costs. 

If you or a loved one have bee injured in a forklift accident, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Schuster Law to learn more about how you may be able to recover compensation that will cover your medical bills.