Forklifts are a common sight in warehouses and on construction sites. They are an important piece of equipment, but they can also cause serious and debilitating injuries. Each year, about 34,900 people are hurt in forklift accidents. Because a forklift can weigh up to 9,000 pounds, it is extremely important for workers, employers, and construction companies to understand the dangers posed by forklifts and to take steps to reduce the risk of forklift injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Forklift Injuries
Few people think about forklift accidents until they are involved in one. Any type of forklift accident can force you to take time off work. Understanding why these accidents happen and how they can be avoided is key to preventing future accidents from occurring.
Why Do Forklift Accidents Happen?
Forklift accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. In some cases, a lack of training contributes to a forklift accident. In other situations, workers are pressured to accomplish tasks too quickly. When forklift operators are under stress to get things done faster, they can sometimes make mistakes that lead to a serious accident.
Forklift injuries can also happen when the forklift itself is old or hasn’t been properly maintained. Like any other piece of machinery, forklifts break down and get too old to function safely. It’s up to employers to ensure their forklifts are serviced and maintained.
It’s also possible for forklift accidents to happen because the forklift operator wasn’t trained to handle the machine. While driving a forklift may look easy, it requires a great deal of training and experience to operate it safely. When operators attempt to drive too quickly, forklifts can crash into objects or people, or even tip over, leading to catastrophic injuries.
How Can Employers Reduce Forklift Accidents?
There are a number of ways to reduce forklift injuries and accidents. Employers can do their part by making special areas for pedestrians and forklifts. Because forklifts can travel up to 18 miles per hour, they can cause serious injuries when they collide with a pedestrian. By designating certain areas as no-pedestrian zones, employers can help protect employees from being struck by a forklift.
In some cases, it’s not possible for a pedestrian to totally avoid walking near or around a forklift. In these situations, pedestrians should always try to make eye contact with the forklift operator. This helps ensure that the forklift operator knows the pedestrian is nearby.
Employers should also make sure that areas in which forklifts operate are well lit and free of obstructions. If possible, any area in which a forklift must maneuver should give the forklift operator plenty of room to move around. Employers should do their best to eliminate narrow aisles or pathways, as these increase the risk of the forklift colliding with objects or pedestrians.
It also goes without saying that pedestrians should never walk underneath a forklift that has a raised load in its forks. If the raised objects shift or fall, they can cause serious injuries to anyone passing underneath the forks.
What to Do After a Forklift Accident?
Any workplace accident can be life-changing. When your livelihood is on the line, it’s normal to feel nervous and anxious about what comes next. Should you file a report? What about workers’ compensation? How will this affect your life? What if your employer fires you for filing a claim?
First, it’s important to understand that laws prohibit employers from retaliating against workers who report or file injury claims. If you suspect your employer has terminated your employment because you reported forklift injuries, you have important rights. You should contact a construction accident lawyer right away to determine the next steps in your case.
Get Medical Treatment – Immediately after a forklift accident has occurred, you should get medical help. Not only is this important for protecting your health, it’s important for protecting any future claim for compensation. Medical treatment establishes an independent record of your injuries, which is why you shouldn’t delay getting medical treatment for any forklift injuries.
Take Photos – If you have a smartphone, you can use it to document the scene of the accident, as well as any injuries you suffered. Take photos of the forklift, the surrounding area, and any circumstances that may have contributed to the accident. These pictures can be an invaluable part of your injury case.
File a Report – Most employers have an official procedure for reporting accidents and injuries. Ask your supervisor or human resources manager what you should do to document your forklift accident.
Talk to a Lawyer – Understandably, you may have a lot of questions following a forklift accident. Fortunately, a construction accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and decide what to do next. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden of lost wages, medical bills, and other damages. Your personal injury lawyer will help you get the compensation you deserve.
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Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved. This article is not to be considered advise, only the execution of the contingency agreement with this law firm will constitute an attorney-client relationship. The contents of this article are for general information only. If you would like to pursue a claim please contact an attorney immediately to discuss your specific facts and circumstances regarding your claim. Some cases accepted by this law firm may be referred to or worked on by other lawyers, depending on the area of practice and specifics of a particular case.