Forklift Safety and Injuries in New Jersey
In the United States, thousands of workers are injured while operating forklifts, as any New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney can tell you. It is unfortunate that some of the main causes of forklift-related fatalities are workers being crushed by an overturned forklift or workers falling from loading dock areas. As a result, it is now an OSHA requirement that companies utilize forklift safety programs and training in an effort to reduce the number of forklift-related accidents in the workplace.
More specifically, OSHA requires that only persons over the age of 18 be allowed to operate a forklift, and those persons must be properly trained and certified. Employers are required to keep all documentation related to the certification of each of their forklift operators.
Additionally, OSHA requires that forklift inspections be done on a daily basis, both prior to and during the operation of the vehicle. Pre-operation inspections include the examination of the vehicle to look for leaks, cracks, or other any other visible defects, as well as to confirm fluid levels and look at the condition of the tires, the fork, the load backrest extension, the hand/finger guards, warning decals and safety labels, the location of the operator’s manual, and ensuring the functionality of all safety devices. Operational inspections look for issues with things such as steering, brakes, tilt controls, drive controls, lowering and hoist controls, attachment controls, lights, horns, and the back-up alarm. If you were injured while using a forklift that was not properly maintained, contact a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney.
OSHA specifically identifies maintenance as a vital factor in safely operating a forklift. Accordingly, employers should immediately remove any vehicle that is not in safe operating condition, and they should keep a regular maintenance schedule of the vehicles in use in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Under OSHA laws, forklift operators are required to follow very specific safety rules while operating and maneuvering the vehicle. These rules include specific ways to mount and dismount the vehicle, start and stop the vehicle, speed restrictions, and steer and change directions, as well as the proper ways to travel safely on inclines and park. OSHA also has standards with respect to the ways in which forklift operators should handle the picking up, transporting and stacking/unstacking of loads. If you are injured while using a forklift, contact a New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney.
It is also crucial that forklift operators and those working in the general area of a forklift wear all required protective gear and personal safety devices at all times. Whether it’s the use of a hard hat, safety shoes, or a face shield, do not take any chances–wear whatever is needed for your protection. And if you are the person who is operating the forklift, always remember to walk completely around the equipment before starting it. You should also inform any other employees and bystanders in the area that you are starting up and wait until everybody has cleared the immediate area of the forklift.
If you have suffered a forklift-related injury in the workplace, please call New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney Dan Matrafajlo at (908) 248-4404 for a free consultation.