At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our workers’ compensation attorneys advocate for employees when they’re injured on the job. Look to us for knowledgeable representation. We work with clients out of our Seaford, Newark, and Wilmington offices.

Forklifts are an essential machine for manufacturing, warehousing, ports, marine terminals, and other industries. They are powered trucks that lift, move and place inventory and other materials at work sites. They’re also called lift trucks, jitneys, fork trucks, fork hoists, and forklift trucks, and can be quite dangerous. Employers should ensure that the workers who operate these vehicles are properly trained. They should also ensure that other workers understand their job duties when they are in proximity to a forklift.

Employees who are injured by a forklift during work have the right to hold their employer accountable without the need to prove fault. If a forklift accident causes an employee to suffer any type of physical injury, the worker has the right to claim Delaware workers’ compensation benefits.

How do forklift injuries happen?

Forklift accidents can occur in the following ways, according to EHS Daily Advisor, an industry safety publication:

  • The forklift turns over. About 25% of all forklift deaths occurs when a forklift flips over. These flips can occur if the load isn’t properly balanced, if the load is too heavy, or the forks are too high. Inclines can also cause a forklift to turn over.
  • Workers are struck by a forklift. Forklifts that strike another worker or pedestrian can kill or injure the stationary person. Employers should separate forklift workers from everyone else. Forklifts shouldn’t be used during breaks, near main exits, ends of shift, or times when other workers/people will be nearby. Physical barriers can help separate forklift operators from other people. Forklifts shouldn’t be used where views can be obstructed.
  • Being crushed by a forklift. Forklifts weigh several thousand pounds. They can easily cause death or catastrophic injury if they run over a person. Forklifts shouldn’t carry passengers or other workers, and the route of the forklift worker should be clear.

Other causes of forklift injuries, according to the Occupational Health Safety Administration (OSHA) include:

  • Loads that fall from the forklift
  • Forklifts that fall off loading docks
  • Forklifts falling off elevated pallets and tines
  • Forklifts falling between docks and unsecured trailers

Forklift operators must be properly trained. According to OSHA, it is illegal for anyone under 19 operate a forklift. It is also illegal for anyone 18 or older to operate a forklift who is not properly trained and certified to do so.

OSHA suggestions for forklift workers

OSHA provides specific safety recommendations for forklift operators:

  • Forklift workers should be properly trained
  • If there are seatbelts, use them
  • If the forklift is damaged during operation, inform your supervisor
  • Stay with the forklift – don’t jump from an overturning, sit-down type forklift
  • Exit from a stand-up type forklift with rear-entry access by stepping backward if a lateral tip over occurs
  • Be especially careful when the forklift is on a ramp or incline
  • Don’t raise the forks while the forklift is moving
  • Don’t handle loads heavier than the forklift’s weight capacity
  • Go slowly, and make sure you can stop the forklift safely
  • Make sure you have a clear travel view
  • Slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed
  • Don’t let passengers ride the forklift unless there is a passenger seat
  • When getting off the forklift, set the parking brake, lower the forks or lifting carriage, and neutralize the controls
  • Don’t drive towards anyone standing in front of a fixed object
  • Don’t move to another location with the work platform elevated

Forklifts are extremely dangerous. They can easily kill or cause severe injuries to the operators, other workers, and anyone near the forklift. At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our dedicated Delaware workers’ compensation lawyers are aggressive fighters for injured workers. We’ve helped many workers get the full compensation they deserve. Please call us at 302.888.2900or use our contact form. to discuss your workers’ compensation case with our offices – in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford.