Forklifts are probably one of the most common pieces of equipment involved in work related accidents. This is true because forklifts are used across multiple industries. From construction sites to industrial factories, workers use forklifts every day in this country, and every day, there are forklift accidents.
One easy thing employers can do to prevent forklift accidents is ensuring proper functioning of basic safety equipment, such as the horn, lights and steering. The key is conducting daily inspections. However, the problem is that many forklift operators are not trained to perform daily inspections and if they are, employers often fail to enforce rules requiring these inspections.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) forklift inspection requirement – 1910.178(q)(7):
Industrial trucks shall be examined before being placed in service, and shall not be placed in service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be made at least daily. Where industrial trucks are used on a round-the-clock basis, they shall be examined after each shift. Defects when found shall be immediately reported and corrected.
Properly working horns and lights are two basic safety elements of forklift operation which can prevent strike and run over accidents, i.e., accidents in which a bystander is struck by a forklift. For example, a forklift operator conducts a minimal inspection prior to operating the forklift. Another worker is walking near the area. The forklift operator attempts to honk the horn to warn the worker of the presence of the forklift. However, the horn is not working, but it is too late. The worker comes into contact with the forklift and is dragged underneath. In this scenario, a proper and complete inspection would have revealed that the horn was not working.
Working Steering System
Forklift steering is crucial, for obvious reasons. If the steering system is not working properly, the chances of a forklift accident are very high. Prior to use, a forklift operator must ensure that the wheel turns at the appropriate angle and rate.
While of course, forklift operators must be trained properly, maintenance is crucial to preventing forklift accidents. Improper or negligent forklift maintenance is a major cause of forklift accidents, and one which most workers never even consider. Most large companies hire outside companies to maintain forklifts. Companies which perform forklift maintenance must do so carefully and comply with various OSHA requirements, such as:
All parts of any such industrial truck requiring replacement shall be replaced only by parts equivalent as to safety with those used in the original design.
Industrial trucks shall not be altered so that the relative positions of the various parts are different from what they were when originally received from the manufacturer, nor shall they be altered either by the addition of extra parts not provided by the manufacturer or by the elimination of any parts, except as provided in paragraph (q)(12) of this section. Additional counterweighting of fork trucks shall not be done unless approved by the truck manufacturer.
These two sections basically require forklift repair/maintenance to be conducted in such a way that any replacement parts or alterations comply with the manufacturer’s requirements.
For more info about forklift accident law and legal rights, visit our forklift accident law library.
Injured in a Forklift Work Accident?
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