Even though it’s relatively easy to prevent workplace tragedies involving forklifts, there seems to be a spate of these accidents in recent months. In one example, George Fischer Central Plastics LLC and Nationwide Plastics Inc. have been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 16 safety and health violations. The citations come after an accident that happened back in June at their Dallas plastic manufacturing facility, in which a worker and a self-employed truck driver were fatally injured when the forklift struck them and pinned them against a flatbed trailer as they were loading it with plastic pipe.
According to OSHA, both companies were cited for failing to implement basic OSHA standards, including a number of common-sense safety precautions. They were cited for their failure to ensure that the safety latch was intact on the hook of the overhead hoist; failure to make sure storage structures had load ratings; and a failure to provide guard platforms with standard railing. They also failed to provide a lockout and tagout procedures for workers to use to control energy sources; failed to provide all workers with required forklift training, and other types of safety training that would have made the workplace safer. They even failed to block the wheels of trucks parked on an incline.
Forklift accidents are quite preventable in almost all cases. The problem seems to be that too many employers don’t seem to take them seriously. According to occupational safety experts, the most common factor leading to forklift accidents is inadequate or no training of workers and operators. Sometimes, supervisors simply hand the keys to a worker, without assessing their ability to operate it. Other common factors that often lead to accidents include a tendency to rush operators to rush, poor forklift maintenance and the advanced age of some forklifts.
Other factors that contribute to forklift accidents, and which are relatively easy for employers to control, have to do with the layout of the workplace and making sure housekeeping is done properly. For example, aisles in the workplace should be wide enough for a forklift to operate, and should be uncluttered and free of spills. While a forklift is operating, traffic in the area should be held to a minimum, and someone should be directing traffic in the area. All ramps should be coated with a non-slip material, and loading docks should be kept clear of debris and traffic where possible.
OSHA and Texas state law put the onus for safety on employers, and require that workplaces are made as safe as possible, to prevent worker injuries on the job. If you or a loved one has been injured by a forklift, or any other piece of equipment in the workplace, please contact the Texas Workplace Injury Lawyer as Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, to protect your rights. All initial consultations are free.