Tennessee Construction Injury Law: Forklift Accidents
A forklift is a certain type of mechanical vehicle with movable prongs used for lifting and transporting loads of substantial weight. This heavy machinery is used throughout numerous industries, primarily for the transportation of heavy materials. The forklift injury attorneys at InjuryTN know that there are multiple risks involved with the use of these heavy machines, which places those working on construction sites in danger. This is especially true when such pieces of equipment are inadequately maintained or negligibly operated.
Causes of Forklift Accidents
Forklift accidents have the potential to cause serious injury for those working on construction sites. The following are examples are accidents which can occur when operating a forklift:
- Forklifts falling when elevated on pallets or tines
- Workers being struck by falling or flying materials
- Workers being crushed between two vehicles
- Forklift falls between unsecured trailer and dock
- Operators or other workers being struck by a forklift
- Forklifts being driven of of a loading dock
Actually, this type of work is so hazardous that those under the age of 18 are not allowed to operate or even ride on a forklift, pursuant to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Even so, numerous workers who are underage have lost their lives recently as a result of occupational forklift accidents.
Analyses of Forklift Accidents
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that around 85 work-related fatalities occur annually as a result of forklift accidents in the U.S. An additional 35,000 construction workers are severely injured, and almost 62,000 sustain injuries that can be categorized as “non-serious.”
On average, 10% of all forklifts actively in use is involved in an accident of some type each year. When taking into consideration that a forklift’s useful life is less than 10 years, it can be estimated that almost 90% of forklifts will be involved in some form of accident throughout the course of its use.
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If you have been injured in an occupational forklift accident, you should seek legal help immediately. Contact our office today to set up your free and confidential consultation today.
Safety for Different Types of Forklifts
A forklift’s safe operation is highly dependent upon the type of lift it is as well as the environment in which it is being used. Generally, forklifts can be classified under the following:
- Electric motor narrow aisle trucks
- Electric motor rider trucks
- Electric internal combustion engine trailers
- Internal combustion engine forklifts (with solid, cushion, or pneumatic tires)
- Rough terrain forklift trucks
Maintaining a safe working environment will require forklift operators to have received adequate training as well as necessary certifications in order to operate their specified vehicle.
For instance, an operator of a seated, counterbalanced rider truck will have a much higher risk of having loads tip and fall than a driver of a motorized hand truck, especially if their load is elevated to a substantial height. This is the reason that training on the vehicle operators will use is critical in maintaining a safe workplace.
Additionally, worker responses to tip-over accidents can be improved with adequate training as well. Almost half of all fatalities resulting from forklift accidents occurred because drivers attempted to jump from tipping vehicles. Firstly, under normal circumstances, tipping is completely preventable if the driver is able to keep the load at a low height while in use. Next, it is necessary for operators to remain inside the vehicle in the event that it does tip – even if it doesn’t feel natural to do so. Most operators instinctually will leap from the vehicle, landing on the ground – directly in the path of the overhead guard – often resulting in serious crushing injury, and even death.
When companies train their workers to utilize standard safety precautions, like using a seat belt and remaining inside vehicles if they tip, severe injuries and fatalities can be prevented.
Workers should also be adequately trained in order to prevent posing a risk to other workers or pedestrians in the area. Forklift operators should be experienced in appropriate back-up techniques, turning maneuvers, and signaling pedestrians throughout work areas. Having an understanding of the appropriate ways to communicate with others on-site is paramount to the site’s overall safety.
Furthermore, apart from making sure all forklift operators are adequately trained, construction companies should ensure all forklifts are adequately maintained in addition to making sure that all forklifts that are not functioning properly are put out of service until necessary repairs have been completed. Problems with mechanical parts such as the brakes, transmission, clutch, and steering have the potential to cause severe workplace accidents.
Effects of Workplace Conditions on Forklift Accidents
Recent reports from OSHA have identified numerous possible conditions in the workplace which can contribute to accidents involving forklifts. Such conditions may include:
- Elevators – Do not overload an elevator, ensure adequate clearance as well as enough room inside.
- Floor loading limits – Check the floor’s load limit and ensure the forklift’s weight does not exceed it prior to use.
- Loading docks – There is always a risk of falling of a loading dock, so all loading docks should have painted corners and edges for enhanced visibility.
- Obstructions/Uneven Surfaces – The risk of tipping over is heightened when traversing obstructions like bumps or holes.
- Overhead Clearance – Always ensure forklifts have enough clearance overhead to avoid hanging fixtures as well as the load.
- Passengers – Passengers should never be allowed on a forklift due to the risk of falling.
- Pedestrian Traffic – Operators of forklifts must always yield to pedestrians’ right-of-way, use the forklift’s horn when backing up, drive slow at intersections and corners, and employ the use of spotters to assist with blind spots.
- Slippery Conditions – Drivers should exercise standard precautions when operating a vehicle in conditions such as water, oil, grease, gravel, and mud, among others
Experienced Tennessee Forklift Accident Attorneys
Construction workers who sustain serious injuries as a result of forklift accidents in Tennessee need to pursue immediate legal counsel from an accomplished personal injury lawyer. Contact InjuryTN to set up your free initial consultation to discuss how we can protect your rights. No costs or fees are incurred until we win your case. In the event that your are unable to visit our offices, our attorneys can come to your home or hospital room.