New York Forklift Accident Law Firm
Forklift Uses in the Workplace
Forklifts are among the most important pieces of industrial machinery. Capable of moving large quantities of weight quickly and efficiently, these machines have replaced manual labor on most construction sites and in many businesses. Though home builders and contractors who specialize in smaller buildings might still have workers haul drywall, brick, lumber, plumbing pipes, and electrical equipment, large scale projects all but require forklifts to meet deadlines and contain costs.
Construction is one of the most common workplaces for forklifts, and there are a variety of other occupations that use these machines regularly. Large warehouses are extremely reliant on forklifts, both to move heavy pallets quickly, and also to raise and lower them on and off of large shelving systems. Very large warehouses might employ dozens of forklifts at the same time to keep product moving quickly.
Any job that requires the stacking and unstacking of boxes on a large scale, or requires moving heavy materials medium to long distances, will benefit from a forklift. Even many large retail stores use forklifts to help load and unload trucks and manage their back-stock. Forklifts are a ubiquitous type of machinery used by hundreds of thousands of workers on a daily basis.
Forklift Accidents and Injuries
Forklifts are one of the most commonly used heavy machines, and forklift accidents are among the most common types of accidents that occur at worksites. Forklift accidents are among the most devastating workplace accidents that can occur. Because forklifts must, by design, carry extremely heavy loads, they are powerful, heavy machines that can easily injure or even kill a worker.
Certain injuries are more commonly associated with forklift accidents than others. These injuries include:
- Crushing injuries, most commonly associated with tip-over accidents, where the forklift rolls over onto an individual, and with accidents involving the loading arms
- Lacerations, when the loading arm or other moving part cuts a worker
- Significant trauma injuries caused when a worker or bystander is struck by the moving forklift
Though forklifts have a limited number of moving parts, those moving parts generate tremendous amounts of force, meaning that a simple accident is still likely to cause significant injury. The lift arms are designed to carry massive quantities of weight, and even what may seem like a minor collision with them can cause serious trauma. Forklift tires and treads are important for allowing the machine proper maneuverability, but due to the need for forklifts to fit in tight spaces, imbalance issues can occur when weight is situated oddly on the tires.
Causes of Forklift Accidents
There are a variety of potential contributing factors whenever a forklift accident occurs. It is absolutely vital that a full investigation take place to determine precisely what went wrong. Oftentimes employers will attempt to spearhead these investigations, but this is a bad idea. The employer has a vested interest in a certain outcome, and this can lead to an investigation that cuts corners or has a predetermined conclusion.
Experienced investigators know that there are three primary causes of forklift accident, which include:
- Design defect, which is particularly common in tip-over accidents where the forklift is either engineered in such a way it tips easily or is lacking important safety features
- Improper or deferred maintenance, where the company saves money by not performing proper upkeep on the machinery, increasing the likelihood of a malfunction
- Operator error, including workers engaging in unsafe behaviors such as standing on the forklift while it is moving or operating
Of these, design defect is particularly dangerous, as tip-over accidents are more likely to cause death than other types. Forklifts are extremely heavy machines, and if one rolls over onto a person, the likelihood is very high that the person will be crushed to death. At the very least, significant injury and amputation are common occurrences. There are a variety of important stability and load-bearing tests a forklift should pass before it is made available, but many manufacturers will sell machines that have not passed these tests.
Operator error, when it occurs, is most often related to insufficient training. Workers try to be as productive as possible, and without proper safety training an individual might attempt to hurry a task by riding on the forklift. Proper training is key to preventing these types of accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a curriculum to insure safe operation of forklifts, and every employer must insure that all individuals operating these machines are properly trained and certified. This system is effective, as only three percent of forklift accidents are attributed to improper operation of the forklift.
Legal Help for Forklift Accident Victims
If you or someone you love has been injured in a forklift accident, determining the cause of the accident must be a priority. As design defect is such a common cause of this type of accident, ruling it out as a possible cause is pivotal. If design defect was responsible for the accident, more accidents will continue to happen until that design defect is addressed on an industry-wide level.
Finding a proper investigator is difficult without experience. New York law firm Finz & Finz, P.C., has years of experience assisting these types of investigations, and can help you hold liable whoever was responsible for your accident. Finz & Finz, P.C., can be reached toll-free at (855) TOP-FIRM, or the Free Forklift Accident Case Evaluation Form can be found online.