Forklift Injuries – Hazard Report released by NCDOL

A Forklift is an extremely dangerous piece of equipment.  In 2010 there were 7 forklift related fatalities in North Carolina, which amounts to almost 15% of the total workplace related fatalities that were reported last year.  This is such an important issue that the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) has issued a Forklift Hazard Alert, which outlines some precautions that should be taken whether you are operating a lift, or simply working in an area where forklifts are operating.

If you are driving the equipment, be constantly aware of your surroundings, including pedestrians, blind spots, and ramp/dock edges.  Always wear your seatbelt and never extend your hands, arms or head outside of the “safe zone”.  These fundamental tips are extremely important because several of the deaths reported in 2010 occurred because:

  1. An operator drove the lift partially off the ramp he was working on, removed his seatbelt (causing him to fall out of the forklift) and was crushed when the forklift fell on top of him.
  2. A pedestrian was run-over by a forklift.
  3. An operator reached his head and arm through the “safe zone”, accidentally turned on the lift, and died from asphyxiation.

Here are some other tips to consider when operating a forklift:

  1. Be careful not to carry unbalanced loads – another fatality occurred because an unbalanced load fell on the operator.
  2. Never stack materials above a safe stacking height.
  3. Consider using shrink wrap to enhance the stability of a stack
  4. Do not overload warehouse racks
  5. Take pre-use inspections seriously and correct any issues prior to operating a lift
  6. On inclines, always drive with the load uphill

A more exhaustive and comprehensive list of safety precautions can be found on the website for the NC Department of Labor.  If you are injured while operating a forklift or any other heavy machinery, you may need the assistance of a workers comp lawyer to help you navigate your claim.  Call Raleigh Workers Comp Lawyer James Hart at (919) 460-5422 to schedule your free consultation.