No matter how many times you read the OSHA statistic that there are 85 workplace fatalities related to forklifts each year in the United States, it doesn’t grab you as much as when you hear that a 27 year-old man was killed while driving a forklift at the Stone Brewing Company in San Diego, California, on August 27, 2013. Why is that? Is it because of his young age? Is it because beer is a subject close to our hearts? Is it somehow more poignant because a young man lost his life while getting the beer out the door and into our favorite bar? Or was it because the accident happened right before quitting time at 5 o’clock in the afternoon?
While a full investigation has yet to be completed, what is known about the accident is that the forklift fell over and landed on top of the driver. It is well known that this is the main cause (42%) of all forklift fatalities. What is also clearly documented is that most accidents can be prevented by proper training. What accidents do occur, they are less severe when the operator has been fully trained to OSHA standards.
Guys, if you drive a forklift at work, even if it’s just once in a blue moon, get your butt trained. It’s not rocket science, it costs as little as fifty bucks and takes just an hour or two of your time. Most of the stuff is common sense, but there are some things you need to know that you might not expect to be true.
Employers, if you’ve guys in your company that drive a forklift and aren’t OSHA certified, get them trained. Don’t do it because OSHA can slap you with a huge fine; do it because a guy lost his life just because he didn’t clock out early.