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Forklifts are among the most frequently used pieces of equipment in the workplace, with more than 856,000 in operation throughout the United States. Unfortunately, accidents involving forklifts are also quite common.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), forklift accidents are responsible for approximately 100 deaths, 34,900 serious injuries and 61,800 minor injuries each year.
There are a variety of things that can cause forklift accidents, including a lack of training or inadequate training, carelessness by drivers, improper tools and attachments, and failure to maintain the forklift. Typical accidents involve vehicle tip-overs, which can lead to operator fatalities, and forklifts pinning and crushing individuals against another surface.
Having appropriate safety measures in place is critical to prevent these injuries and reduce the risk of fatalities. Below are a few ways you can avoid serious injuries and hazards when working with forklifts.
Forklifts emit carbon monoxide and must be correctly ventilated. If you drive a forklift in an enclosed area, you should be aware of the increased risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Allow yourself plenty of time to park and secure a forklift at the end of the day. This will prevent others from accidently walking into it. Ensure the forklift is safely parked, and the key is removed.
OSHA requires all operators to follow proper training procedures and to maintain their machinery. Forklift inspections are essential to determine if a machine needs servicing, which can help to prevent accidents and injuries. OSHA collects more than $2 million each year from citations issued to organizations that fail to maintain their forklifts or provide adequate training to their employees.
Forklifts can tip over easily if they are improperly loaded. In fact, 14 percent of all forklift accidents occur in this manner. Another dangerous loading hazard to avoid is using a forklift to elevate an individual.
Accidents as the result of driving issues and operating the equipment are perhaps the most common. Driving off a loading dock leads to 7 percent of all forklift accidents. Other forklift accidents are due to vision problems and operator error/control issues.
Remember, forklift accidents can happen at any time. By implementing appropriate training and safety measures, you can reduce the risks of forklift accidents and workplace injuries.