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Forklift accidents cause thousands of serious injuries annually

OSHA reports that forklift accidents are responsible annually for about 100 deaths, 34,900 serious injuries, and 61,800 minor injuries. It appears that Colorado workers suffer their proportionate share of forklift accidents each year. These are caused by a variety of factors, including poor maintenance, machines tipping over, dangerous attachments and inadequate training.

Lack of training is a big problem for temporary workers who may be put on forklift machines that they are not trained to use. The safety problems that they face are discussed in other blogs on this site. When a worker, permanent or temporary, is injured in a workplace accident involving a forklift or any other cause, a workers’ compensation claim should be opened with the employer.

The employer has the necessary claim forms and should guide the injured employee through the process. If forms are not provided and cooperation does not seem forthcoming, the employee can go to the workers’ compensation office for the state of Colorado and seek assistance. He or she can also obtain help at the office of a workers’ compensation attorney.

Workers’ comp pays for all medical expenses, and compensates the disabled worker with a percentage of his or her average weekly wage as long as he or she is declared medically unable to work. With respect to forklift accidents in particular, one forklift specialist, who is also a spokesman for the National Forklift Exchange, has suggested certain preventative safety measures. One is to keep forklifts correctly ventilated to cut down on carbon monoxide emissions. A forklift should be carefully and properly parked at the end of the day, and the key removed.

Machines must be inspected regularly and all operators should be properly and adequately trained. The machines must be maintained and serviced. Safe operation of forklifts, and compliance with workplace rules regarding their proper operation in the workplace, should be instilled in the culture of the company. This is a continuing problem in Colorado and throughout the nation. Both employers and employees should work cooperatively to prevent the high incidence of forklift accidents.

Source: Reliable Plant, "5 Tips for Preventing Forklift Accidents", Tom Redden, July 23, 2014

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