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Equipment operator killed after backing a forklift into an excavation.

New Jersey Department of Health
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 98NJ094, 1999 Apr; :1-7
On October 20, 1998, a 40-year-old equipment operator for a power company was killed when she backed a forklift into a trench covered with plywood. The incident occurred at a company building that was being partly torn down to make way for a new highway. A storeroom in the building had been cleared, leaving three pallets of material staged outside the building which the victim was going to remove. She arrived on site and asked a company construction coordinator about the pallets and a forklift. The coordinator (who was not aware of the trench) directed her to a forklift on the loading dock. Behind the forklift was a five foot wide, four foot deep trench that had been dug across the loading dock a few hours earlier and covered with large sheets of plywood. The victim walked through the building to the loading dock, crossing a barrier of yellow tape but not over the plywood. She apparently did not realize that the plywood covered a trench as she backed the forklift across the loading dock. The lift broke through the plywood and fell backwards into the trench, crushing the victim when the impact bent the forklift's cage support into the steering wheel. NJ FACE investigators concluded that, to prevent similar incidents in the future, these safety guidelines should be followed: 1. Site owners and contractors should have a formal agreement to control access to construction areas. 2. Construction contractors should ensure that excavations are clearly marked and/or properly guarded. 3. Site owners and contractors should ensure that all unnecessary equipment is removed from site before starting construction.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-2; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Construction; Construction-equipment; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Equipment-operators; Warning-signs
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-98NJ094; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-207088
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New Jersey Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division