Thursday, September 25, 2014

Case Reports

The cases presented here were investigated by the NIOSH Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. The case reports were selected to represent 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

On September 18, 1996, 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 [NIOSH 1996b].

Case 2-Forklift Overturn

On April 25, 1995, a 37-year-old shop foreman was fatally injured after the sit-down type forklift he was operating overturned. The victim was turning while backing down an incline with a 4% grade. The forklift was transporting a 3-foot-high, 150-pound stack of cardboard with the forks raised approximately 60 inches off the ground. No one witnessed the incident. The victim was found with his head pinned under the overhead guard. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt [California Department of Health Services 1996].

Case 3-Forklift Overturn

On November 25, 1996, a 41-year-old male laborer was fatally injured when the sit-down type forklift he was operating fell off a loading dock and pinned him under the overhead guard. The forklift was not equipped with a seat belt. The loading dock had large cracks in the surface and was in need of extensive repair. It was raining when the victim left the storage building to lift a load from the back of a pickup truck. Evidence indicates that either the victim's forklift was too close to the outer edge of the loading dock (which crumbled) or the right front tire was caught in a large crack in the loading dock, causing the forklift to overturn [Indiana State Department of Health 1996].

Case 4-Worker Struck by Forklift

On October 19, 1995, a 39-year-old female punch press operator at a computer components manufacturer was fatally injured while performing normal work tasks at her station. A forklift was traveling in reverse at high speed toward the victim's work station. A witness observed the forklift strike a metal scrap bin (about 3 by 5 by 3½ feet), propelling it toward the punch press station. The bin hit the press and rebounded toward the forklift. There it was hit once again and shoved back against the corner of the press, striking and crushing the victim against the press [NIOSH 1996c].

Case 5-Fall from Forklift

On July 21, 1997, a 36-year-old male electric-line technician was fatally injured after falling from and being run over by a forklift. While the operator was driving the forklift, the victim was riding on the forks. As the operator approached an intersection, he slowed down and turned his head to check for oncoming traffic. When he turned his head back, he could not see the victim. He stopped the forklift, dismounted, and found the victim underneath the right side of the forklift [NIOSH 1997a].

Case 6-Fall from Forklift

On September 24, 1997, a 61-year-old male maintenance manager of a shelter for the homeless died after falling 7 feet from a safety platform that had been elevated by a forklift. The victim had been raised in a steel-framed, cage-type safety platform that had not been secured to the forklift. The victim removed a fluorescent light bulb from its fixture and stepped to one side of the safety platform. When the victim shifted his weight from the center of the platform to the outer edge, the safety platform toppled off the forks. The victim fell about 7 feet, struck his head on a concrete floor, and was subsequently struck by the steel safety platform [NIOSH 1997b].

Case 7-Fall from Forklift

On September 6, 1995, a 47-year-old male assistant warehouse manager was fatally injured while working with a forklift operator to pull tires from a storage rack. The two workers had placed a wooden pallet on the forks of the forklift, and the victim then stood on the pallet. The operator raised the forks and victim 16 feet above a concrete floor to the top of the storage rack. The victim had placed a few tires on the pallet when the operator noticed that the pallet was becoming unstable. The victim lost his balance and fell, striking his head on the floor [NIOSH 1996a].

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