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The Importance of Preventative Forklift Safety: Another Tragedy on the Job

Forklift-safetyTwo weeks ago, we were saddened to hear about another tragic accident that could've been prevented.  In central Kentucky, a sheet metal company was hired to install insulation and siding inside an aircraft hanger.  As the project was reaching completion, the team was tasked with installing exterior insulation on a platform that was secured to the forks of a rough terrain telescopic forklift truck.  

Two of the subcontractors were on top of the platform (which was suspended 40 feet in the air).  The foreman was signaled to lower the platform; but, as the frame was tilted to avoid scraping the wall of the building with the platform, the operator lost control of the lever handle, and the tilt became more significant, causing the forklift to turn over.  The platform crashed into the concrete floor below; and, unfortunately, one of the installers was killed, while the second worker suffered significant injuries.  

As much as it saddens us to report these happenings, it's important to both recognize areas where the industry can improve safety and to pay respects to those who have been on the wrong side of these accidents.  The Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program was been hired to investigate and provide recommendations to prevent accidents like this from happening again in the future.

This investigation identified the following factors that may have contributed to the fatality:

  • The rough terrain forklift truck was not designed to lift personnel.
  • The platform on the lift was too long, causing the forklift to become unstable.
  • The operator tilted the lift while lowering the manned scaffold platform.
  • The employee was not trained to operate the lift.

The group offered these recommendations for prevention:

  • Employers should provide appropriate siding equipment on the job site and ensure all employees are trained to operate the siding equipment.
  • When lift equipment is required to elevate siding installers, choose only equipment specifically designated by the manufacturer for that purpose, for example, scissor lifts and telescopic boom lifts specified for lifting personnel.
  • Avoid tilting a forklift truck when the platform is elevated.
  • When using a forklift approved by the manufacturer for personnel lifting, the width of a scaffolding platform should not exceed the width of the forklift wheelbase.

These findings are the only good that has come from this accident, and it's up to us to continue the effort to promote the importance of forklift safety.  The factor that stands out the most is that the employee was not trained to operate the lift.  Driving a forklift is not like a car, in that there are very specific ways to control the machine; however, it is like a car in the fact that one must be trained for several hours before getting behind the controls.  

While MRES Imports, LLC is not a training facility, we do offer a series of products that have been specifically designed to prevent forklift related accidents.  Everything from the Pedestrian Alert System to the Fall Protection System, can be implemented to increase safety around the useful but dangerous machines.  At the end of the day, we believe that there is no such thing as being "too safe."

To discuss getting your warehouse outfitted with forklift safety products, please reach out to one of our specialists today.


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