Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm, in North Carolina. He writes about forklifts in the workplace. It is important to be properly trained on any equipment that a person is required to use at work. Forklifts are a fairly common piece of equipment in many business environments, including manufacturing, construction, retail, and other places. Thoughts are with the victims of the forklift incidents in the tragic examples that Mr. Jernigan gives. Please ask for training if you haven’t gotten it on each piece of equipment, and be aware of your right to safely operate equipment at your workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) covers forklifts under the section called Powered Industrial Trucks, and you have to be certified to operate these lifts. The smaller ones you see weigh up to 7,000 pounds and they are so dangerous some experts consider them “inherently dangerous.” It is in violation of federal law to operate a forklift if under the age of 18, and OSHA requires that you be specifically trained. See 29 CFR 1910.178. If operated properly, a forklift is no more dangerous than any other piece of heavy machinery. However, if the operator is not properly trained and certified bad things can happen. We now represent a young man who was allowed to operate a forklift without any certification and the forklift turned over on him and crushed him, damaging several internal organs and his spine. He survived, but he is partially paralyzed from the waist down. He will have a lifetime of pain. He has lost the use of both feet. Other examples are workers being crushed when a forklift accidentally runs into them. The human body cannot withstand a crush impact from a 7,000 pound machine. If the lifts on the forklift are elevated with a heavy load, the potential for a tip-over is greatly increased, even if the operator is moving slowly. Never underestimate the power of a forklift. For more information go to osha.gov and review Powered Industrial Trucks.
Are Forklifts Dangerous?