Workplace Injuries from Forklifts and How to Prevent Them

Most employers and employees recognize that forklifts can be a dangerous piece of machinery, but they also underestimate their safety profile. Once training has been completed, it is assumed that the risk of injury drops substantially. In reality, these machines are inherently dangerous. Here are just some of the ways in which accidents that can occur while an employee is using them, and tips to keep your workers safe.

The Truck Is Inadvertently Driven Off a Loading Dock

When a truck is in motion, it’s not always clear where it is in relation to the edge of the loading dock. Since many trucks travel on and off trailers, or load items into trailers, there’s an inherent risk that the driver will inadvertently get too close to the edge of the loading dock and tip the truck over. If this happens, the driver, and others that are nearby, can be seriously injured.

Lifts Fall between a Dock and An Unsecured Trailer

When a truck slips between a loading dock and an unsecured trailer, it may surprise the driver, but it can also push the trailer out of the way just enough for the truck to fall – this could cause catastrophic damage to the truck and seriously injure the driver.

They Are Hit By Another Lift Truck

Forklift collisions aren’t as uncommon as you might think. When operators are responsible for quotas and deadlines, sometimes, trucks collide when they are in close proximity to one another. It’s a problem of focus. Drivers are focused on meeting their quotas instead of being aware of their surroundings.

If the forks of a truck hit another driver, it could seriously injure or even kill him. Workers’ compensation lawyers see this all-too-often. An employee is operating a forklift, and is either hit by another truck or hits someone not on the truck because they can’t see them while driving.

They Tip Over While On Elevated Platforms

Forklifts can also be tipped over while on elevated platforms. If a truck is being driven over elevated pallets or up on top of a platform, and one of the wheels slips off of a stable drive surface, it could injure the driver and others around him.

Pallets or Contents Fall Off The Forks

The most obvious risk, which often goes ignored, is the risk of dropping the contents of the lift. This poses a risk of serious injury to others in the immediate vicinity but, depending on the payload, could cause serious damage to the building or others not in the immediate area.

Ways to Protect Employees

There are many ways to protect employees, but most of them involve safety training and safety-equipped vehicles. For example, overhead guards can dramatically reduce the risk of falling accidents in trucks. Strobe lights and audible warning sirens can reduce the risk of collision, and automatic braking employed on vehicles can eliminate collisions altogether.

Of course, the first step is proper safety training that’s ongoing so that these risks are minimized through the driver.


Aaron Friedman, Esq., has devoted his law career to helping people injured at work through no fault of their own. When he’s not meeting with a client, he likes to share his insights with others by writing. Look for his illuminating posts on many websites and blog sites today. See Philly Disability Lawyer for more information on workers compensation.

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