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Forklift mishaps responsible for thousands of injuries

Forklift mishaps responsible for thousands of injuries


Powered industrial trucks, or forklifts, are responsible for over 94,000 injuries each year in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. While these vehicles may do the heavy lifting, workers in Erie, Pennsylvania, bear the consequences when misuse or unsafe conditions cause damage such as a bone fractures, contusions or amputation.


The National Safety Council reports that contact with an object or equipment caused 26 percent, or 241,000, of all occupational injuries that resulted in missed work in the U.S. in 2010. Falls accounted for another 22 percent, or 208,000 injured workers. Forklifts are listed as the primary source of injury in nearly 15 percent of all construction worker fatalities, and as a secondary source for about 13 percent. A serious or fatal forklift accident may occur when the equipment overturns, hits a pedestrian, crushes a worker with a falling load, or when a worker falls from the truck.


Workers’ compensation is a state program designed to cover medical expenses and to provide compensation for lost wages when workers suffer injuries from incidences such as forklift accidents. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry may offer additional payments such as the Specific Loss Benefit. This provides an award for the permanent loss of use of a hand, arm, foot or leg if it is damaged in a powered industrial truck mishap or other workplace incident. The workers' compensation benefit applies, as well, to hearing loss, loss of vision, and disfigurement of the neck or head.


OSHA proposes that thousands of forklift incidents could be avoided with proper training and site maintenance. Surface levels should be adequately supportive, and grease, gravel and hole-free. Operators can avoid injury by observing safe speeds, wearing a seatbelt, and being aware of blind spots and foot traffic.



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