Workers’ Compensation for Forklift Accidents
Forklifts are used by workers in many industries, including warehousing, construction, and wholesale trades. These powered industrial trucks are dangerous and can cause workers serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Approximately 100 employees lose their lives and thousands more are injured each year in forklift accidents, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. have represented workers injured all types of workplace accidents. We can help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries.
Types of Forklift Accidents
Caught in/between: This type of accident is one of OSHA’s “fatal four” causes of construction worker fatalities. Caught in/between accidents occur when a worker becomes caught in between objects, such as a forklift and a wall. According to OSHA, these accidents account for seven percent of construction worker deaths.
Failure to follow safety procedures: Forklift operators should chock the wheels when the vehicle is not in use; failure to do so may cause the wheels to roll. Placing chocks (wooden or rubber blocks) in front of and behind the wheels can prevent the forklift from moving backwards and injuring bystanders.
Inadequate equipment maintenance: Employers are responsible for regularly maintaining equipment and ensuring that it is safe for workers to use. If a forklift breaks down in the middle of a job, it can be hazardous to the operator and bystanders. Oil leaks, worn brakes and failing hydraulics should all be fixed expediently to avoid workplace injuries.
Inadequate training/operation: Both federal and state law requires workers to be trained and certified before operating a forklift. Improper or inadequate training can lead to catastrophic accidents. It is easy to misjudge the distance behind a forklift and workers who are not adequately trained can cause bystanders to be hit or otherwise seriously injured by a forklift.
Struck by falling material: When material is not properly secured, it may fall and injure workers. This is also one of OSHA’s fatal four causes of fatalities in the construction industry. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), being “struck by an object” is one of the top three causes of emergency room visits in the U.S.
Struck by/runover: Ten percent of forklift accidents occur when a worker is struck or runover by a forklift. Forklift operators who overload the truck, do not look out for bystanders or otherwise fail to safely maneuver the vehicle may strike or runover workers in the immediate vicinity of the forklift.
Tip-over: Forklifts can tip over when they are overloaded, when they are being driven up a steep incline or when they are being operated by workers who are not adequately trained. Forklift operators or those working in the immediate vicinity may be fatally injured when forklifts overturn or fall from a loading dock – forklift overturns account for approximately 25 percent of all forklift-related deaths.
Preventing Forklift Accidents
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) investigations into forklift-related deaths reveal that employers are not fully aware of the risks associated with forklifts and that they are not following the procedures established by OSHA. OSHA sets forth requirements for the maintenance and operation of forklifts, including that they must be examined prior to use and unauthorized personnel are not permitted to ride on powered industrial trucks. Forklift operators should also take safety precautions like wearing a safety belt and not exceeding five miles per hour.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers who are injured workplace forklift and other heavy machinery accidents may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides that workers may recover compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who was at fault for the accident. It is important to notify your employer of your injuries within 120 days of the accident as well as consult with an experienced work injury lawyer in Philadelphia.
If someone other than your employer caused your accident, you may be able to file a third-party claim to recover additional compensation for damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. Some examples of potentially liable third parties include:
- Manufacturer of a defective forklift
- Negligent landowner or building contractor who caused an unsafe condition
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Workers Injured in Forklift Accidents
If you were injured in a forklift accident, contact an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We can help you determine the appropriate legal action to take in order to recover the maximum financial compensation. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.
We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County, as well as those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, Wynnewood and throughout Pennsylvania.