Too Many NY Forklift Accidents Raise Safety Concerns Explain New York City Work Accident Attorneys
During the first six months of 2017, at least two more forklift accidents occurred says Arkady Frekhtman, one of the New York City work accident attorneys at the F&A injury law firm in Manhattan. In February, a 28-year-old Queens construction worker lost his life while operating one. He was basically crushed to death while using a forklift outside a FDNY warehouse. After being placed in neutral, the forklift rolled forward and crushed the young man as he prepared to load boxes into a nearby van.
Just a few months later in May, a Rochester man employed by a fence company died while he was using a forklift to help him unload materials from a flatbed trailer. Sadly, multiple factors often contribute to these tragedies – causing everyone to stop and ponder what we can do to make it safer for employees to use powered industrial trucks (forklifts).
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) keeps reminding all employers to fully train new forklift operators before letting them use these frequently dangerous machines. During one recent year, 85 people died due to the use of a forklift — and over 34,000 more suffered injuries.
To prevent even more forklift accidents, it can help all of us to review the following special safety precautions and considerations that may help minimize these events.
10 Ways Forklift Operators & Others Can Try to Reduce Accidents
- Routine Inspection and Maintenance. Every forklift must be carefully inspected before each employee’s new shift. If any special attachments will be used, those must be carefully inspected as well. If anything appears to be unstable or not working properly, the machine must be sidelined until all reported problems are completely fixed;
- No one under age 18 – without proper training – should ever be allowed to use a forklift. Employers must resist the temptation to quickly show an eager young person how to operate one of these machines for a few days and then assume they are fully qualified. Furthermore, all required training for this machine must be fully documented to comply with OSHA standards. Employers should also document that each approved operator has a received a copy of all the newest required safety materials before being allowed to operate a powered industrial truck like a forklift. Employers must carefully review 29 CFR 1910.178;
- Workplace areas must be designed properly when forklifts will be in use. It’s always best to carve out wide enough aisles where forklifts can operate – preferably removed from the areas where employees’ workstations are located;
- Forklift operators should inspect the area where they will be working – before strapping on a seat belt in the forklift. This is one of the most dependable ways to make sure that there aren’t any cluttered aisles, possibly filled with spilled goods or materials that could prove dangerous. Signs should be clearly posted reminding pedestrians and other workers to avoid walking close to the forklifts;
- Supervisors should regularly evaluate each forklift operator’s work skills. Each employer is responsible for being sure that only fully qualified workers are operating these big heavy machines. Also, it’s important to make sure that there aren’t any drivers suffering from substance abuse issues. Employers should never hesitate to retrain any operators who repeatedly fail to properly load their forklifts. They must also always drive at proper speeds — carefully watching out for nearby workers and pedestrians;
- Forklifts must always be parked properly. No one should ever leave a powered industrial truck running in neutral or park after stepping out of the driver’s seat. Far too many accidents happen when this occurs. If the forklift is being parked on an incline, be sure to point the tires toward the curb and obey other safety measures;
- Drivers must exercise complete focus. Employees should never wear music headphones or earbuds because they need to keep listening for any sounds that might warn them of nearby hazards. Furthermore, all horseplay must be discouraged;
- Every load must be carefully positioned on the forklift. Operators should never be placed under so much deadline pressure that they fail to take the time necessary to properly balance the proper weight of materials for each load;
- Every forklift – or other powered industrial truck – accident must be immediately recorded and reported promptly as required. Conscientious employers fully dedicated to employee safety should contact OSHA and request an on-site consultation to help them better identify any other safety risks they’ve yet to properly recognize and correct;
- Workers must be required to wear proper clothing and protective safety gear provided by the employer. Loose fitting shirts or jackets must be discouraged since they can play a role in a forklift operator getting caught in between their machine, loads, and other objects.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a forklift accident, contact your New York City work accident attorneys right away. We’ll be ready to investigate your accident, carefully noting all signs of employer negligence that may entitle you to added compensation beyond what you may receive from workers compensation