Those who work in construction, manufacturing, and other industrial sectors often operate or work around heavy mobile equipment, such as forklifts and cranes.
Accidents involving large equipment can be prevented by inspecting and fixing mechanical defects, practicing safety measures when operating the machinery, and ensuring that equipment is completely turned off when not in use.
Forklift accidents are most common in the manufacturing industry, which accounts for 42 percent of all incidents. Another 24 percent of forklift accidents occur in the construction industry. Tip-overs account for 42 percent of all incidents.
Other forklift accidents include:
- Trapped: forklift-object (25%) – occurs when a worker is pinned between a forklift and another object.
- Trapped forklift-forklift (11%) – occurs when a worker is pinned between two forklifts.
- Hit or run over (10%) – occurs when a worker is struck by a forklift.
- Struck by load (8%) – occurs when a worker is struck by objects being transported on a forklift.
- Falls (4%) – occurs when a worker falls from a forklift.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) offers tips on how to prevent forklift accidents. In order to safely operate a forklift, it’s recommended that workers practice safety measures in the following areas:
- Pre-operation: To prevent accidents caused by mechanical defects, forklifts should be inspected and maintained before use.
- Traveling and maneuvering: Operating a forklift takes adequate training and experience. It’s crucial that operators are fully engaged and maintain control of a forklift. Operators should also maintain a safe speed and pay attention to their surroundings to avoid hitting other workers.
- Load handling: Operators should ensure that a load is properly secured, either wrapped or banded to a pallet. In addition, loads should be centered to avoid tipping and weight/load capacity should not be exceeded.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that between 2011-2015, there were a total of 220 reported deaths caused by crane accidents, with an average of 44 incidents per year. Roughly 42 percent of fatalities occurred in the construction industry and 24 percent occurred in manufacturing industry.
During that time, Illinois experienced 12 crane-related deaths, the second highest in the nation.
More than half of crane-related deaths were caused by workers or bystanders being struck by objects or equipment. Other causes of crane-related deaths included transportation incidents and falls to lower levels.
In order to safely operate a crane on a worksite, OSHA suggests practicing these safety measures:
- Maintain and inspect a crane before operating.
- Ensure that any defects found during an inspection are repaired.
- Make sure recommended operating speed, load capacities, and other instructions are posted for the operator.
- Ensure that a crane is operated on a firm and flat surface.
- Make sure pathways are clear before operating.
- Maintain a minimum clearance distance of 10 feet away from powerlines.
- Keep all rotating machine parts guarded in order to avoid workers.
- Receive written manufacturer approval before making any changes or modifications to a crane.
IF YOU ARE INJURED, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
If you have sustained an injury involving heavy machinery, it’s important that you know your rights. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney Schweickert & Ganassin LLP can help you through these hard times.
Contact us today to discuss your legal options.