Construction Worker Killed in Queens Forklift Accident

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Rakesh Ram, a 28-year-old construction worker, was killed in a random forklift accident in Queens. The fatal work accident took place in the Long Island City section of Queens on Review Avenue near 35th Street, a busy commercial block. 

Ram was using the forklift in front of a warehouse. He placed the forklift in neutral and exited the cab of the machine, planning to walk towards a parked van The forklift, however, continued moving, pinning the unsuspecting worker between the forklift and the van. Emergency personnel were called to the scene and Ram was rushed to a nearby emergency room. He was sadly pronounced dead at Elmhurt Hospital.

An article in the New York Daily News, noted that the forklift had the name Continental Lift Truck on it. However, the same article also indicated that the equipment belonged to the F.D.N.Y. , perhaps an indication that Continental Left Truck had performed some work on the forklift prior to the accident. The entity that owns the forklift may bear some responsibility for this tragic accident. Any entity that repaired the forklift may also be culpable for the death of Mr. Ram if the forklift failed to properly function. It is too early to determine fault. The ensuing investigation needs to play out. For now, we can all express our sorrow to the loved ones of Mr. Ram

Forklift accidents are not very common but can have very serious consequences when they do occur. Reducing the number of forklift accidents is a very worthwhile focus. It can legitimately save lives. Forklift accidents stem from a variety of factors. The factors that may lead to a forklift accident include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor Training – there are far too many inexperienced operator’s using forklifts, often in congested areas.
  • Actual and Implied Pressure-one of the largest culprits in terms of causing construction accidents. Bosses compelling people to work faster and less safe than they should.
  • Shoddy Maintenance-like any machine a forklift needs to be properly maintained so that it functions appropriately.
  • Excess Load-Forklifts have limits on the amount of weight they should be carrying and often these limits are not adhered to.
  • Unsafe Operation – a safe operator is a sound one. Reckless turning, acceleration and breaking can turn this machine into a weapon.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication-flagman, operators and other workers all need to be aware of where the operator of the forklift is and what the plan is.
  • Spacing-congested areas increased the likelihood for construction accidents and forklift accidents, in particular.
  • The Surface – a forklift is not intended to be used on rough terrain with various levels. It just increases the dangers.

Part of the post-accident investigation will undoubtedly look at the operator as a reason for the accident. It will also likely scrutinize whether the operator had the appropriate training. OSHA may also look at the condition and maintenance of the forklift. Did it perform like it was intended to? What and why was the Van parked in close proximity to the forklift? These questions and more will be posed by seasoned investigators. We will be monitoring as the investigation unfolds.

OSHA statistics reveal that more than 60,000 forklift accidents occur on an annual basis, with about 25% of the accidents taking place at construction sites. Nearly 100 people die every year in forklift accidents. The powerful machine, if used properly, is invaluable at work sites. However, it is equally daunting weapon when not used appropriately. Work sites will continue to employ forklifts. So the solution to forklift safety has to come, in part, from employers, contractors and developers. They are the actors in the construction industry who are best equipped to implement safety changes The construction industry will be well served if they prioritize safety and make sure that forklift safety is a focus at all jobs sites.

Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that is committed to fighting on behalf of construction workers and their families. You may learn more about the firm success stories by reviewing this link.

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