This study examined risk factors associated with forklift and other powered industrial vehicle (PIV) collision injuries with an emphasis on the design of factory traffic systems, the loading and safety features of PIVs, and the characteristics of the drivers. A case-control study examined risk factors for circumstances of injury-producing PIV incidents at eight automotive manufacturing plants between July 1992 and March 1995. A computerized safety and health surveillance system identified 171 incidents where a PIV (forklift 70%, personnel carriers 15%, other 15%) was involved in a collision incident. Site visits were conducted to collect data regarding the factory environment at the collision site, the PIVs involved in the incidents, and driver characteristics. These data were compared with information collected from a random sample of comparison worksites, PIVs, and PIV drivers who had not been involved in a PIV-related incident in the prior 3 years. In half of the cases (86 of 171), an employee (pedestrian) was struck by a PIV or an object being carried by the PIV. The presence of an obstruction that restricted the aisle width increased the odds of a collision incident 1.89 times (95% CI=1.22, 2.86). The presence of overhead mirrors at intersections and blind corners with limited visibility reduced the odds of a PIV collision incident by a third (OR=0.33, 95% CI=0.16, 0.68). When carrying a load, the odds of a PIV being involved in a collision was 1.58 (95% CI=1.03, 2.41) times greater than an unloaded one. Changes in the factory environment, vehicle safety features, and driver and pedestrian training are suggested to reduce the risk of PIV incidents.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505-2888