Accidents involving lift trucks like forklifts, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks can cause severe and even permanent damage to workers. If you’ve been injured on the job and need help obtaining the benefits you need to recover, reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney from Prince Law Firm for expert legal assistance on your claim.
What Are the Most Common Forklift Accidents?
Forklift rollovers, or forklift overturns, are among the most common types of lift truck accidents. In addition to rollovers, accidents involving other workers on foot are common, including injuries that occur when a person is stuck or crushed by a forklift. Others are injured in falls from forklifts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common types of lift truck accidents are:
- Forklift overturns (rollovers)
- A worker on foot (not driving) struck by the forklift
- A victim crushed by the forklift
- A fall from the forklift
Because lift trucks are so susceptible to rollovers, ramps and inclines can be dangerous to maneuver. Whenever driving on a grade, ramp, uneven surface, or incline of any kind, it’s essential to exercise extreme caution and only operate the vehicle in the way it was designed to be used. Unbalanced and uneven loads can cause a forklift to topple, especially on turns, ramps, or unsmooth flooring. Turning abruptly or too quickly can result in a forklift overturn. The following factors can contribute to the likelihood of a forklift accident:
- Inadequate operator training
- Failure to watch for pedestrian safety
- Slippery floors
- Unbalanced, uneven, loose, or poorly-secured loads
- Tipped pallet
- High speeds
- Sharp turns
- Debris left on the floor
- Poor flooring conditions
- Dock plate issues
- Brake failure or improper brake use
- Defective equipment or mechanical failure
When workers attempt to drive at unsafe speeds, carry more weight than the forklift is capable of carrying, disregard safety protocol, take turns too sharply, or otherwise fail to operate the machine as safely as possible, accidents like the ones listed above can be the result. Nearly all of these accidents can be prevented by adhering to proper safety measures.
Forklift Safety Measures
If you own, operate, or work near any kind of lift truck, you know the level of caution that is required when working with these powerful machines. The CDC recommends ways to protect yourself when working with or around forklifts. The following measures are included:
- Only operate a lift truck if you are trained and licensed to do so.
- Always adhere to the weight and speed limits for the forklift—never try to exceed the weight capacity or driver faster than is advised. Be prepared to brake suddenly at any time if needed.
- Always keep a clear view of the lane of travel. Slow down and sound the horn when your view is obstructed or when crossing walkways with limited visibility.
- Never raise or lower forks when the forklift is in motion.
- Wear a seatbelt whenever one is available.
- Before exiting the forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks, and neutralize the controls.
- If you notice any damages or changes in the way a forklift operates, notify a supervisor immediately. If you are leaving a shift, make sure the problem is addressed before a coworker uses the lift truck.
The average forklift weighs in the range of nearly 9,000 pounds. When an accident occurs and someone is struck, crushed, falls from, or is trapped under a lift truck, the injuries are usually severe. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 79 people lost their lives in forklift accidents in 2019. The same year saw over 8,000 lift truck-related accidents, a number that has steadily increased over the past several years.
What Injuries Can Result from a Forklift Accident?
Injuries suffered in a lift truck accident can range in severity. Injuries from a small incident could be relatively minor, while some workers hurt in rollover or crushing accidents involving forklifts or other industrial trucks can be killed or sustain permanent damage. The following injuries may occur during a forklift incident in the workplace:
- Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Back injuries
- Whiplash and neck injuries
- Headaches and hearing loss from noise and vibrations
- Muscle strains, sprains, and tears
- Crushing injuries
- Internal bleeding and internal organ damage
- Injuries resulting in permanent disability, amputation, paralysis, or disfigurement
- Wrongful death
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Forklift Accident at Work
The first step should always be to seek medical attention. Make sure that your injuries are addressed and treated right away, and that your physician is able to rule out any hidden injuries you were not aware of at the time of the accident. This step is most important to your physical wellbeing, and your medical records are also necessary documentation you will need when filing your workers’ compensation claim. Make sure to save all evidence from your doctors’ visits. Ask for printed copies of information like test results, prescription medications you’re taking, and physicians’ notes on the injury.
If you’re injured on the job, you’ll likely need to file for workers’ compensation. It’s important to notify your employer right away of the injury, as one of the first steps to filing for workers’ compensation. Your employer will need to be aware of the injury in order to complete the necessary procedures and paperwork on their end. Ideally, filing for workers’ compensation should be a straightforward process that allows you to obtain the benefits you need to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. But complications can arise, and sometimes your claim may be denied, for any number of reasons.
In some cases, your employer may dispute the severity and origin of your injuries, and whether or not they were work-related. The company may have a strong legal team supporting them. Without proper legal representation, it may be difficult for you to receive fair compensation. Our workers’ compensation lawyers have helped many individuals receive benefits after sustaining an on-the-job injury in Marion and the surrounding areas in Illinois. Contact us today for a free consultation about how we may be able to help you with your workers’ compensation claim.
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