Forklift injuries are surging due to insufficient safety measures, faulty trucks, lack of basic and ongoing training, and messy workplace housekeeping. OSHA recorded 8,241 fall protection infringements in 2020 alone. OSHA’s report also shows that over 11% of all forklift operators in the U.S. will get into some form of accident each year.
Common Forms of Forklift Accident Injuries
The most common type of forklift accident that leaves workers with injuries is transportation accidents. Due to their capability to overturn, the forklift may leave the operator and people around with serious, permanent injuries. In some cases, these injuries may lead to fatality. Other common ways that employees can sustain injuries from forklift accidents include:
- An employee falls off of a forklift
- The forklift pins employees against the wall or another object
- The forklift hits another worker in the area
Causes of Forklift Accidents
When handling specialized equipment at work, employers must work with their employees to help them obtain the right training, permits, and licenses. Preventing forklift accidents at work, however, doesn’t stop at giving a worker his or her permit or license. These accidents can happen at any point in an employee’s career. Here are some of the leading causes of forklift accidents:
Lack of Basic or Continuing Safety Training
Training a worker before he or she assumes the driver’s seat is compulsory, but not sufficient for long-term safety. With time, regulations change, equipment becomes obsolete or gets replaced, and workers become passive. For these reasons, refresher training is a crucial part of forklift safety.
Without a regular and preventive maintenance schedule, potentially dangerous mechanical issues could go undetected. This can lead to serious forklift accidents and high financial costs. Repairs that don’t comply with powered industrial trucks (PITs) regulations can also result in faulty trucks that put employees at risk.
Messy housekeeping in the workplace creates an unfavorable working environment for forklift operators. A lack of tidy driving paths can easily cause serious accidents. Cluttered floors, obstructions overhead, and the presence of objects in the path of the forklift can also result in serious incidents.
Benefits for Employees Injured on the Job
Employees who are injured at work are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, these benefits cover lost wages, rehabilitation expenses, and medical costs. If an injured worker is unable to return to his or her job due to physical or mental limitations, the worker qualifies to get vocational rehabilitation services. In Illinois, the Workers’ Compensation Act requires an employer to cover all the costs that go into rehabilitating an injured worker physically, mentally, and vocationally.
Legal Options for Forklift Accident Victims
An employee who sustains serious injuries in a forklift accident needs to determine who and what caused the accident. If the accident happened due to a forklift defect, the employee can recover losses by filing a product liability claim against the manufacturer. If the forklift accident was due to the employer’s gross negligence or recklessness, the worker has the right to make a personal injury claim against the employer outside of the workers’ compensation arrangement.