Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Forklift Fatalities - part 1

This case was investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. This case report was selected it represented one of the most common types of fatal forklift incidents: (1) forklift overturns, (2) workers struck, crushed, or pinned by a forklift, and (3) falls from a forklift.

Case 1-Forklift Overturn

The 43-year-old president of an advertising sign company was killed while using a sit-down type forklift to unload steel tubing from a flatbed trailer. He was driving the forklift about 5 miles per hour beside the trailer on a concrete driveway with a 3% grade. The victim turned the forklift behind the trailer, and the forklift began to tip over on its side. The victim jumped from the operator's seat to the driveway. When the forklift overturned, the victim's head and neck became pinned to the concrete driveway under the falling-object protective structure (overhead guard). An inspection of the forklift revealed that the right-side rear axle stop was damaged before the incident and was not restricting the lateral sway of the forklift when it turned. Also, slack in the steering mechanism required the operator to turn the steering wheel slightly more than half a revolution before the wheels started to turn. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt.

Contributing factors to this accident may include (but are not limited to) deficient equipment maintenance, lack of equipment inspection & removal from service, lack of a seat belt, lack of sufficient forklift safety training and operator error.

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