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Operating a forklift: How important is safety?

Posted On March 28, 2015

Many American industries rely on forklifts for smooth and efficient operation. From big box stores to warehouses and shipyards, these machines are important tools for getting the job done. Like any piece of heavy machinery, a forklift can be a fatal hazard if it is not operated safely.

High risk of potential hazards

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, forklifts are the most frequently mentioned hazards in warehousing establishments and similar workplaces. They are a more common source of safety citations than electrical wiring, fire extinguishers, exits, respiratory protection and other important parts of workplace procedure. Forklift risks outweigh every other hazard, as a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer is aware.

Why are forklifts so dangerous?

Forklifts are massive pieces of equipment that often dwarf the people operating them. They are dangerous because of their size, power, bulk and operating range. They can easily kill or maim a worker in seconds.

According to OSHA statistics, approximately 100 people die every year in forklift accidents on the job. About 95,000 workers are injured by forklifts, some of them seriously. Many forklift injuries occur among young or inexperienced workers, especially workers under 18.

Common causes of forklift accidents

The most common forklift accidents involve turnovers. These vehicles have a high center of gravity and turn over easily, leading to injury or death in multiple cases each year. Slippery work surfaces and badly maintained equipment can also lead to serious accidents, as a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer knows.

Safety strategies for decreasing injury rates

Employers and workers can decrease the injury rate associated with forklifts by paying attention to all of the following safety strategies:

  • People under the age of 18 must not drive forklifts.
  • All employees who operate forklifts must be thoroughly trained and qualified.
  • Before using the forklift, inspect it for damage, wear and other issues.
  • Never drive a forklift at a speed over 5 miles per hour.
  • Pick up and stack loads with caution, never hurrying and never neglecting proper loading technique.
  • Maintain tires and wheels in excellent condition at all times, with daily inspections to ensure safety.

OSHA studies show that using these procedures can help workers stay safe on the job.

Forklift injuries are tragically common in the warehousing industry. People who have been hurt on the job by a forklift malfunction or turnover may have the right to benefits in Illinois. Injured employees should call a Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss their case.

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