Workplace accidents: Forklifts are a main culprit

  Worker safety

Years ago, Tony Samento watched a friend die in an on-the-job accident. The trauma affected him so much that he became a safety educator, started his business Samento Industrial Training, and he’s developed a hard-hitting course that shows, in occasionally gruesome detail, what workplace injuries and deaths really look like.

Workplace accidents: Forklifts are a main culprit
He brought his gripping presentation, which uses graphic photos and videos of deaths and injuries, to the recent Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) Management Conference in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been called in on 43 workplace fatalities,” he said. “That really hammers home the human cost of accidents.”
A big part of Samento’s presentation focused on forklifts, which are among the biggest workplace hazards. According to OSHA, there is a forklift-related fatality in the U.S. every three to four days, with somewhere between 80 to 100 deaths per year. There are about 850,000 forklifts in the U.S., and 11 percent of them will be involved in some type of accident each year.
Samento said seat belts are critical for forklift drivers, even though the vehicles rarely travel very fast. While about 75 percent of individuals killed with forklifts are pedestrians, the other 25 percent are forklift drivers – many of whom die because they’re not wearing seat belts and they try to bail out when there’s a tip-over, he said.
“You wear seat belts because if the forklift falls over, you don’t want to try to escape,” he said. “The load can fall on you, and unless you’re dating Lois Lane, you ain’t gonna make it. Stay in the vehicle.”
As far as dangers to those on foot around forklifts, Samento said there is no OSHA regulation about educating pedestrians who work near the vehicles. He urges drivers to maintain a three-foot clearance around the lift, because even non-fatal ...

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