Forklift, or Powered Industrial Truck (“P.I.T.”), injuries are very common in the construction industry for both drivers and nearby workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an estimated 85 deaths result each year as a result of forklift operation accidents, as well as almost 35,000 serious injuries and almost 62,000 non-serious injuries per year. In the U.S., 1 in every 6 workplace deaths occur in forklift related incidents.
With roughly 856,000 total forklifts in the United States, this means that approximately 1 in 9 forklifts will be involved in an accident that results in injury or death. Further, the Industrial Truck Association estimates the average use for the life of a forklift or P.I.T. is approximately 8 years. Taking this factor into consideration, a fair projection calculates that almost 90% of forklifts will be involved in an incident that results in a worker getting injured over the course of the lifetime of the forklift. At the Carney Law Firm, we have skilled and dedicated attorneys who are experienced representing people with personal injury and workers’ compensation claims resulting from forklift accidents.
Types of Forklift (P.I.T.) Accidents Resulting in Injury:
- Worker Crushed by Vehicle Tipping Over
- Worker Crushed Between Vehicle and a Surface
- Worker Crushed Between Two Vehicles
- Worker Struck or Run Over by Forklift
- Worker Struck by Falling Material, Equipment or Attachment
- Fall from Platform on the Forks
Forklifts are very useful vehicles utilized in a number of varied workplaces, including construction sites, grocery stores, retail and department stores, warehouses, and gardening centers, just to name a few. Each class of vehicle provides different uses, as well as different hazards when it comes to operation. For example, a Class I Electric Motor Rider truck is most likely better suited for lifting pallets on a flat concrete surface in a warehouse, where a Class VII Rough Terrain Forklift may be more suited for traversing a construction site.
However, just because a driver is certified in one type of P.I.T. vehicle, that does not necessarily mean he or she is properly trained to operate a different type or class of P.I.T. Unfortunately, this can result in workplace injuries due to improper training and operator error.
Common Causes of Forklift or P.I.T. Accidents:
- Forklift Driver Not Properly Trained and Licensed to Operate Safely
The employer or contractor is required to ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent, properly trained and evaluated to operate the specific type of powered industrial truck safely.
The forklift operator's certification shall include the name of the operator, the date of the training, date of the evaluation, and the identity of the person (s) performing the training or evaluation.
The operator must also be trained to safely operate the specific vehicle with any type of specific attachment with which he or she will operate the vehicle. Types of attachments include front-end attachments, slip-sheet attachments, side-shifters, paper roll handlers, barrel clamps, rotators, extending or telescoping forks, and personnel platforms specially designed for lifting personnel.
- Failure to Properly Maintain Forklift
OSHA requires that all forklifts be inspected before operation, including any and all attachments used with the vehicle. A forklift, and any attachment, shall not be used if it shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Defects shall be immediately reported and corrected. Safety training and maintenance should also be performed in conformance with the specific vehicle's safety manual.
- Unsafe Operation of Forklift
Many workplace injuries are caused due to the unsafe operation of the forklift. Injuries often occur because of:
- Operating the Forklift on an Uneven or Unlevel Surface
- Over-Loading the Forklift
- Failing to Safely Secure the Load
- Using Improper Attachment or Equipment
- Operating the Forklift with Workers or Pedestrians in Close Proximity.
Forklift injury cases can be complex. It is important to have someone on your side who knows the regulations and can navigate the legal challenges for the best possible outcome. At the Law Offices of James F. Aspell, P.C. we have an experienced attorneys who can help you during difficult times when suffering from an injury resulting from a workplace forklift accident. We seek to maintain quality cases to ensure balance so that we can be very responsive with our clients. We have a 24-hour phone call return policy which means if you are a client and you call us, your phone call will be returned within 24-hours.