Forklifts

5 Deadly Forklift Dangers: Part 2

Yesterday, we presented the first 3 of the 5 Deadly Forklift Dangers. Today, we conclude with the last two.

Deadly Danger # 4—Falls from Forklifts

It is not always the case that a victim is crushed following a fall from a forklift. The fall alone may be fatal. Of fatal forklift accidents, 9 percent are the result of falls.

How it can happen: An assistant warehouse manager was fatally injured while working with a forklift operator to pull tires from a storage rack. The two workers had placed a wooden pallet on the forks of the forklift, and the victim then stood on the pallet. The operator raised the forks and victim 16 feet above a concrete floor to the top of the storage rack. When the pallet became unstable, the victim lost his balance and fell, striking his head on the floor.

How to prevent these accidents: Make sure operators:

  • Use only an approved lifting cage and adhere to general safety practices for elevating personnel with a forklift.
  • Always secure the platform to the lifting carriage or forks.
  • Provide means for personnel on the platform to shut power off to the truck whenever the truck is equipped with vertical-only or vertical and horizontal controls for lifting personnel.
  • Never use a forklift to elevate workers who are standing on the forks.
  • Never elevate a worker on a platform unless the vehicle is directly below the work area.
  • Use restraining means such as rails, chains, or a body belt with a lanyard or deceleration device for the person(s) on the platform.
  • Never drive to another location with the work platform elevated.

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Deadly Danger # 5—Failure to Inspect or Perform Proper Maintenance

As with all equipment, forklifts have to be inspected regularly and properly maintained.

How it can happen: An employee was killed while using a forklift to unload steel tubing from a flatbed trailer. As he turned the forklift on a slight grade behind the trailer, the forklift began to tip over on its side. The worker jumped from the forklift, and his head and neck were pinned to the concrete driveway under the falling forklift. An inspection of the forklift revealed that the right-side rear axle stop was damaged before the incident and was not restricting the lateral sway of the forklift when it turned. Also, slack in the steering mechanism required the operator to turn the steering wheel slightly more than half a revolution before the wheels started to turn. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt.

How to prevent these accidents: Notice that, in this case, the forklift operator was not using a seat belt (In fact, the forklift did not have one.), so the immediate cause of death was the tip over and the operator’s attempt to jump free. However, the underlying cause was the fact that the forklift had defects that had not been discovered by proper inspection. The forklift was still in operation and had not been removed from service pending repairs.


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Other Recent Articles on Forklifts
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