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Preventing forklift accidents in Pennsylvania workplaces

Residents of Pennsylvania may have noticed the use of industrial trucks on various worksites to move and transport materials. Forklifts, rider trucks and platform lift trucks are often seen in use throughout the state. Some workers who operate this machinery or work near it are injured every year due to unsafe work conditions.

Statistics show that almost 20,000 workers are injured and around 100 workers killed in forklift accidents in the United States each year. Almost a quarter of these accidents happen when a forklift overturns. Sometimes a forklift falls between the loading dock and an unsecured trailer or falls when elevated on tines and pallets. Employees performing tasks near forklifts often suffer injuries after being hit by a forklift.

Research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has shown that many people who operate forklifts or work near them are not aware of the dangers. Insufficient training, lack of safety enforcement and lack of safe operating procedures contribute to most forklift-related accidents.

To reduce workplace accidents, a Pennsylvania employer may ensure that forklift operators competently operate the machinery. Also, workers should be informed of workplace hazards specifically related to the operation of forklifts. The employer may also ensure that the vehicle has been inspected and maintained regularly along with regular safety inspections of the worksite.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established certain guidelines that should be followed when operating forklifts. It is mandated that workers should be 18 years of age or older and trained and certified for the work. It is also required that a written forklift safety program is posted for employee reading. If any law is not followed by the employer, the employee can notify OSHA and other regulatory agencies. OSHA may penalize the negligent employer for the violation and an injured worker may be able to claim damages from the employer for losses and injury due to a workplace accident.

Source:, "Forklift Safety Awareness," Accessed on Jan. 8, 2015

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