New York Forklift Accident Prevention Guide

Forklifts are one of the deadliest vehicles in the construction industry. Nearly 100 construction workers are killed and approximately 95,000 are injured every year by forklifts, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

It's perhaps because of this common misconception that so many accidents occur. Forklifts (also called power industrial trucks) are powerful pieces of equipment. When not properly operated or maintained, they can readily cause injury or death.

Making Safety a Priority

The biggest hazards of forklifts include rollovers, collisions and falling loads. Yet many of these accidents can be prevented.

Only properly trained and certified workers (age 18 and older) should operate forklifts. Additionally, all forklift operators must receive site-specific training. This means your training should address the type of powered industrial trucks you'll be operating and under what conditions.

You should always prioritize safety when operating a forklift, and some ways to do that include:

  • Never use a forklift that's not equipped with a rollover protection device.
  • Inspect the forklift before each use. Test the controls, tire pressure, lights, steering, brakes, horn and other key components.
  • Always wear a seat belt, even for quick and easy jobs.
  • Double-check the load capacity for the specific forklift you're operating, and never exceed that capacity.
  • Know how to navigate turns and grades with heavy loads.
  • To avoid tipovers, always make sure that loads are properly balanced.
  • Understand how the stability triangle and center of gravity affect load balancing.
  • Don't make alterations to the forklift without approval from the manufacturer.
  • Only use manufacturer-approved attachments.
  • Don't let passengers ride along (except for authorized passengers when there's a safe seat).
  • Sound the horn when approaching visually obstructed intersections.
  • Operate the machine at safe speeds, taking into consideration the load, conditions, grade, surface type, potential obstacles, foot traffic and other site-specific hazards.
  • Know what to do in case of a tipover. For example, in sit-down forklifts, never attempt to jump off the vehicle if it's rolling over.

If you work near forklifts, steer clear of lifting and moving operations. Give these machines plenty of space to perform their work. If you believe conditions might be unsafe — for example, in narrow aisles or tightly confined spaces — get out and seek help from a supervisor or safety officer.

Involved in a Forklift Accident?

Far too many construction workers end up with serious injuries due to forklift accidents that could have been prevented. Ultimately, your employer has a legal responsibility to provide safe working conditions — including the appropriate training and protective gear as well as forklifts that are in safe working order.

After an accident, it can be difficult to make sense of what happened and where to turn next. At Block O'Toole & Murphy, a New York City personal injury law firm, we're here to help. Our lawyers have secured more than $1 billion on behalf of injury victims, including:

  • A $3.258 million verdict for a delivery truck driver who was hit by a forklift while making deliveries at a grocery store
  • A $3.175 million settlement on behalf of another delivery truck driver who was struck by a forklift load at JFK Airport

If you have been involved in a forklift accident — whether as an operator, worker or passerby — you can rely on our forklift accident attorneys for trusted legal guidance. Learn more during a FREE consultation: Call 212-736-5300 or fill out our online contact form.