The federal government has not promulgated safety rules for forklift trucks, but these powerful vehicles nevertheless proliferate in many industrial and commercial settlings in Louisiana. In some circumstances, regulations adopted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can be adapted to cover a given situation, but OSHA rules generally don’t cover the operating circumstances that confront most fork life operators. In lieu of far-reaching rules, the following general guidelines are followed by fork lift operators in Louisiana.
Deadly Danger No. 1: Forklift rollovers
Industrial forklifts are nowhere as stable as automobiles and trucks. Loads are often not balanced properly, and this hazard becomes even more dangerous if the forks are not kept as low to the ground as possible. Raising and lowering the forks while the truck is moving can also add to the hazard.
Deadly Danger No. 2: Striking a nearby worker
Forklift trucks do not respond to pressure on the brake pedal as readily as a car or truck. Consequently forklift operators must keep a sharp watch for other employees who may be working or walking close to a moving forklift. Both drivers and other workers should be aware of forklift movement.
Deadly Danger No. 3: Crushing a fellow employee
Forklifts weigh about as much as a medium-sized automobile. They have enough weight to easily crush a nearby worker. Operators must use all safety equipment, including seat belts and goggles.
Deadly Danger No. 4: Falls from forklifts
Many forklift-related injuries are caused when a worker falls from a forklift. Such accidents can be avoided by using only an approved lifting cage, avoiding using the forks to elevate employees other than the driver and refraining from moving the forklift to another location with the work platform elevated.
Deadly Danger No. 5: Failure to inspect and maintain the forklift
In this case, an OSHA regulation states that forklifts must be inspected twice a day: once before beginning work, and once after the workday is completed.
Many forklift accidents are covered, at least in part, by Louisiana’s workers’ compensation laws, but anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a forklift accident may wish to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer for an evaluation of the case and advice on whether to pursue what is called a “third party claim” against a party other than the worker’s employer.