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Three Massachusetts forklift operators killed.

FACE Facts 2000 Apr; 3(1):1-2
Background. Forklift style trucks are used in many industries across Massachusetts. Recently three Massachusetts forklift operators died in three separate forklift-related incidents. One victim fell from and was crushed by a forklift truck that tipped over, a second victim fell from a raised order picker forklift truck, and the third was caught between the mast and safety cage of a forklift truck. All three incidents took place in Massachusetts warehouses. Each of the three companies had been in business over 10 years with one company in business for more than 20 years. The victims' experience with forklift trucks ranged from 4 - 20 years. Two of the three companies had written comprehensive safety programs. Investigation #1. The victim was a 22-year-old male carpet installer who also worked in the warehouse section of the carpet company. The victim worked for the company approximately four years. Driving a three-wheeled forklift truck in the parking lot, he took a sharp turn to the left while moving at 9 mph, the maximum speed. The vehicle tipped to the right and the operator fell out of the vehicle; it landed on top of him and crushed him. He was not wearing the seat belt. Investigation #2. The victim was a 49-year-old male inventory control clerk for a food storage warehouse, who worked for the company approximately 20 years. He was using a high lift order picker truck, which is a style of forklift truck that raises the operator's work area along with the truck's forks. He was using the vehicle in the raised position to apply barcode labels to upper shelves in the warehouse freezer section. To reach the next barcode location, he stepped from the operator's area onto a box of product on a shelf. The box shifted and the victim fell 12 feet to the ground. He was wearing a body harness and a lanyard but did not have the lanyard attached to the anchor point above the operator's area on the order picker truck. Investigation #3. The victim was a 40-year-old male forklift truck operator for a food production and distribution company, who worked for the company approximately seven years. The day of the incident he was performing the typical task of moving product to a different row of the warehouse using a forklift truck. During this task, the load of product became caught in the narrow aisles and the victim lowered the load back to the ground. He tilted the mast forward and stood between the mast and the cage looking over the load to see the obstacle that was preventing him from placing the product on the shelf. His foot caught the lever, which controlled the mast causing it to tilt back toward the cage. He tried to duck out of the way, but was unsuccessful; his head was crushed between the mast and cage. To prevent future forklift-related injuries employers should: Enforce operator restraint use. This includes seatbelts for forklifts and body harnesses and lanyards for high lift order pickers. Eliminate hazardous conditions such as narrow aisles, objects on the floor, and incorrectly positioned loads. Equip forklifts with backup alarms and flashing lights to warn pedestrians. Ensure a properly designed forklift personnel platform is used when lifting workers. Develop and enforce a forklift safety program that is annually reviewed and updated which includes, but is not limited to, worker training in forklift use and hazards.
Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention; Protective-measures; Warehousing; Industrial-equipment; Industrial-safety; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Warning-signals; Training
Occupational Health Surveillance Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 250 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108
Publication Date
Document Type
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
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Identifying No.
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Traumatic Injuries
Source Name
Fatality Investigation Report: FACE Facts
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Public Health