Product Defects or Poor Training Cause Your Forklift Injuries?

forklift accidents

Forklifts are common in construction yards, retail outlets and warehouses across the country, wherever heavy objects and products are made, stored and/or transported. However, product defects and employer negligence such as poor training, lack of supervision and missed maintenance can also make these vehicles exceptionally dangerous to workers. Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains strict safety standards to prevent work injuries from forklifts, employers often overlook these regulations or ignore them in the interest of profits. As a result, OSHA estimates there are 34,900 forklift accidents per year. Due to the massive weight of these vehicles, workers driving or working near forklifts can be catastrophically injured or killed if an accident occurs.

Since forklift accidents most commonly occur on the job, victims and/or their families can often file for workers compensation benefits. However, if anyone other than your employer caused or contributed to your accident, then you may be able to file a third party claim as well. A forklift accident lawyer from our law firm can help you explore options for financial compensation. Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., has secured settlements of over $5,000,000 for injured workers and their families.

What are Common Causes of Forklift Accidents?

Many workplace accidents involving forklifts occur because employers failed to take proper safety precautions. The most common reasons for forklift accidents include:

  • Improper training. Untrained forklift drivers are much more likely to cause accidents. For example, untrained workers may not understand how to safely maneuver and may then accidentally crash into shelving or other obstacles. Drivers and other nearby workers may suffer serious injuries as a result.
  • Product liability. Forklifts may have dangerous design and/or manufacturing defects. Defective forklifts can tip over, leak fuel or overheat. Some defects may prevent the brakes, horns or steering mechanisms from working properly. If an accident results, then you may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
  • Lack of warning signs. Workplaces with heavy foot and forklift traffic should use warning signs in areas where forklifts are operating. Without these warning signs, workers are at much higher risk of suffering injuries. In addition, forklifts are more likely to collide into each other.
  • Workplace layout. The layout and design of workplaces can also create hazards for forklifts and nearby workers. Narrow hallways, excessive clutter and other obstructions may cause accidents.
  • Tip overs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 25 percent of fatal forklift accidents happen because of tip overs. Uneven loads, product defects, unsafe turns and workplace layout may cause this type of accident.
  • Dropped loads. Dropped loads can injure drivers and other workers. Driving with a raised load, speeding and product defects may cause loads to fall or tip over the entire vehicle.
  • Worker fatigue. Forklift drivers suffering from fatigue are at higher risk of causing accidents. Long working hours, lack of breaks and untreated health conditions can cause fatigue-related accidents.

What OSHA Safety Standards Apply to Forklifts?

OSHA regulations on forklift safety exist to prevent workplace accidents. Some of the most important OSHA standards that employers commonly neglect include:

  • Operator training. OSHA standards require employers to create and implement forklift training programs. Training programs should cover basic maneuvers, operating limitations and other safety topics.
  • Inspections. Employers must ensure that workers check safety devices, tires, forks and load backrest extensions before use.
  • Safe maneuvering. Drivers should receive training to operate forklifts at safe speeds and stop before changing directions. If going into reverse, drivers should use horns or warning lights to warn nearby foot traffic. Drivers should slow down to a safe speed while making turns.
  • Load standards. Loads must be secure so forklifts do not tip over. In addition, forklifts should not be loaded beyond capacity. Employers and supervisors should see to it that drivers never operate forklifts with the loads raised. Loads carried by forklifts should not show signs of damage.
  • Mounting and dismounting. Workers can suffer injuries from trips and falls when entering and exiting forklifts. Wet or greasy surfaces are a contributing factor to this type of accident. To prevent slips and falls, employers must ensure workers know how to safely enter and exit the vehicle. Employers must also maintain forklifts and workspaces to prevent hazardous fall conditions.

OSHA regulations also cover topics such as traveling on inclines, parking, operating speed and maintaining visibility. Employers have a duty to inform employees of these regulations and oversee jobsites to ensure they are followed.

Learn More in a Free Consultation with a Forklift Accident Lawyer

Forklift accident cases are complex and require a forklift accident lawyer with relevant knowledge, skills and resources. Still, a variety of factors may contribute to a single accident, so victims may be able to pursue multiple sources of compensation. For example, if a defective forklift causes an accident, it may be possible to file a product liability claim. An industrial accident lawyer can help you discover options for compensation that are available to your case.

The Philadelphia and New Jersey industrial accident attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., are committed to helping victims harmed by negligent employers. We offer free initial consultations at (866) 569-3400 and we handle cases on a contingency fee basis. You do not pay us unless we get results for you.