Forklifts are a common piece of workplace equipment for many Texas workers. Those employed in the manufacturing, distribution, retail and construction industries often find themselves needing to move large volumes of heavy cargo, which requires the assistance of a forklift. This necessary workplace equipment can, however, be very dangerous to workers, especially when used improperly or by an employee without sufficient training.
A Laredo work injury attorney can help victims of forklift accidents access compensation for workplace injuries.
The Real Cost of Forklift Accidents
Forklift accidents affect the lives of real Texas workers and their families. According to the Houston Chronicle, one Texas worker was killed when his forklift overturned. The operator had apparently been moving scrap metal when his forklift went over the top of a drainage area. The man was thrown from the forklift, which overturned and landed on top of him. The man was killed instantly.
Another forklift operator was killed in a McAllen produce terminal. KRGV reports that the young worker, just 25 years old, was reversing a forklift when it began to fall off the concrete platform he was driving on. The operator attempted to jump from the forklift but ended up under the machine instead. He was pronounced dead in what is being treated as an industrial accident.
The emotional cost of a workplace death cannot be easily measured. Other costs are more easily quantified. Forklift accidents result in medical bills, lost wages and other expenses incurred as a result of injuries sustained. Employers will also feel the cost of lost manpower, increased workers' compensation premiums, and remedial safety training programs.
How Laredo Workers Can Stay Safe on a Forklift
The National Safety Council has issued recommendations for steps both employers and employees can take in order to improve forklift safety in the workplace. Operators are advised to perform regular inspections of forklifts and associated safety equipment before each use. These checks should include seat belts, tires, lights, backup alarms, horns, brakes and fluid levels. The forks and other lifting mechanisms should also be carefully inspected before putting any load on the forklift. But not all forklifts are alike, and being trained on one type doesn't amount to expertise. With the many different designs and purposes of forklifts, it's important that operators are trained on different makes and models.
When operators do begin to move a forklift, they must be aware of the differences between operating a forklift and driving a passenger vehicle. Forklifts have a different center of gravity than most vehicles do. The load itself also creates another center of gravity, and this can further complicate the stability of a loaded forklift. Operators must carefully assess and maintain the center of gravity at all times while using a forklift in order to avoid tipping over. Keeping speed low is also an important step to maintain stability of both the load and the forklift.
There are many ways in which a forklift can cause injuries to workers. When they do, workers have a legal right to be compensated for the financial losses they sustain as a result of such injuries. An accident may be the result of a defective forklift or equipment. It may also be the result of an employer's negligent training or supervision of forklift use in the workplace. Many forklift injuries and fatality are the fault of a third party, who may be liable for additional damages beyond what is covered by workers' compensation.
A Laredo work injury attorney can help injured workers sort through these legal issues in order to access the compensation to which they are legally entitled.