OSHA Investigation into Deadly Forklift Accident

by | May 28, 2022 | Industrial Accident, Wrongful Death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has completed its investigation into the November 15, 2021 deadly forklift accident at a lumber yard in Athens, Alabama.  During the incident, a worker at Sun Forest Products was struck by a forklift.  The worker was killed as a result.

The OSHA investigation determined that Sun Forest Products failed to follow federal safety standards. Following the investigation, OSHA issued multiple citations, for violations of the below federal regulations:

  • 29 CFR 1910.22(c): The employer did not provide, and ensure each employee uses, a safe means of access and egress to and from walking-working surfaces.
  • 29 CFR 1910.176(a): Permanent aisles or passageways were not appropriately marked.
  • 29 CFR 1910.178(n)(6): Industrial truck drivers were not required to look in the direction of and keep a clear view of the path of travel.
  • 29 CFR 1910.178(p)(1): Powered industrial truck(s) found to be in need of repair, defective, or in any way unsafe had not been taken out of service until restored to safe operating condition(s).
  • 29 CFR 1910.178(q)(7): Industrial trucks were not examined before being placed in service.

As a result of the findings, OSHA recommended fines totaling $53,866.00.

It goes without saying that safe companies must have adequate policies and procedures to protect their workers.  It is not just workers who are at risk, but also members of the public or employees of other companies.  Of course, the policies and procedures must be adequately implemented.  It is more than merely having a written down procedure, companies must ensure that their workers understand and follow what has been developed.

OSHA has previously provided guidance regarding safe fork lift operation.  Incidents like this one can be prevented before they ever occur.  OSHA recommends drivers:

• Always operate the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

• Always wear a seatbelt when the forklift has one.

• Never exceed the rated load and ensure it is stable and balanced.

• Do not raise or lower the load while traveling.

• Keep a safe distance from platform and ramp edges.

• Be aware of other vehicles in the work area.

• Have clear visibility of the work area and ensure you have enough clearance when raising, loading, and operating a forklift.

• Use proper footing and the handhold, if available, when entering the lift.

• Use horns at cross aisles and obstructed areas.

• Watch for pedestrians and observe the speed limit.

• Do not give rides or use the forks to lift people.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured in an accident involving a forklift.  The experienced construction personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident involving a forklift.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries on a job site as a result of the negligence of another party.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.