Many workplaces use forklift trucks. Not only do they increase efficiency, but they reduce wear and tear on workers’ bodies by reducing how much lifting of heavy or awkward items they need to do.
Forklifts also reduce the risk of ladder falls, as instead of someone climbing a ladder to reach a shelf, a forklift does it for them.
That all sounds great, yet forklifts can be incredibly dangerous to the employees they help.
Each year numerous employees are killed or maimed in forklift accidents
Statistics for U.S. workplaces in 2020 show that 7,299 employees required one or more days off work due to a forklift injuring them. Another 78 people died as a result of their injuries.
Injuries can happen to those near the forklift as well as those driving
Pedestrians accounted for 36% of the injured. It can be hard to hear forklifts, especially in a noisy workplace requiring ear protection. They can also move quickly, so even if you checked that it was clear, they could creep up on you in an instant.
Crashing into someone and crushing them or spearing them are not the only risks. A forklift could easily topple something off a high shelf onto someone on the other side or backward onto the driver.
People could also be at risk from a load already on the forks if it causes the vehicle to fall over or if the load drops off the forks.
Employers can do a lot to reduce the chance of forklift accidents. Yet they may still happen even then. If you are injured at work, seek legal help to understand your compensation options.