Hispanic Lumberyard Worker Dies When Struck By a Forklift – North Carolina
NIOSH FACE Report 2012-01
December 11, 2014
A 58-year-old Hispanic lumberyard worker died on March 30, 2012, from crushing injuries received when a forklift driven by a coworker struck him. The lumberyard laborer was walking from his work area to the employee lunchroom. At the same time, and in the same area, a coworker was operating a forklift that was loaded with lumber. The forklift operator’s field of vision was limited because he was transporting the lumber “load-forward” and the load partially obscured his view. He did not see the laborer but stopped when he felt the forklift roll over something. He exited the cab and found the laborer unresponsive, lying near the left side of the forklift. The laborer was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner identified head and thoracic injuries as the cause of death.
Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include:
- Forklift operator’s field of vision was obstructed in the direction of travel by the load of lumber he was transporting and surrounding buildings
- Equipment and pedestrian pathways were not clearly marked or their use enforced
- Laborer’s ability to hear the oncoming forklift may have been hampered by noise from the dust collection unit.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:
- Develop, train on, implement, and enforce safe forklift operating procedures
- Develop, train on, implement, and enforce workplace pedestrian safety procedures
- Consider proximity warning systems when purchasing or upgrading forklifts
- Ensure that contingent workers receive all required safety training and understand safe operating procedures for each job they will be performing.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. In 1982, NIOSH initiated the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. FACE examines the circumstances of targeted causes of traumatic occupational fatalities so that safety professionals, researchers, employers, trainers, and workers can learn from these incidents. The primary goal of these investigations is for NIOSH to make recommendations to prevent similar occurrences. These NIOSH investigations are intended to reduce or prevent occupational deaths and are completely separate from the rulemaking, enforcement and inspection activities of any other federal or state agency. Under the FACE program, NIOSH investigators interview persons with knowledge of the incident and review available records to develop a description of the conditions and circumstances leading to the deaths in order to provide a context for the agency’s recommendations. The NIOSH summary of these conditions and circumstances in its reports is not intended as a legal statement of facts. This summary, as well as the conclusions and recommendations made by NIOSH, should not be used for the purpose of litigation or the adjudication of any claim. For further information, visit the program website at www.cdc.gov/niosh/face/ or call toll free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).