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Standup forklift operator asphyxiated by warning chain.

Nebraska Department of Labor
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 02NE011, 2002 Oct; :1-6
A 45-year-old forklift operator was killed when the standup forklift he had been operating ran into a steel link warning chain, pinning him against the plexiglas mast shield. The victim had started his shift approximately 45 minutes earlier. He was responsible for moving frozen food products on pallets into and out of the 'X' freezer. This freezer was designated as the "withheld product Area" for product awaiting test results, etc. It is believed the victim placed a load into a bin, then backed out into the aisleway with the forks trailing, striking the steel chain. The chain had been placed there as a reminder to all operators that no Withheld Products were to be placed past that point. The chain came up over the back of the lift, catching the victim across the left side and back. The force pulled him off of the foot brake control and lift floor, pinning him chest first into the plexiglas shield. Another worker noticed that they had not seen or heard the victim for several minutes and went to investigate, finding the victim pinned on the forklift. The employee ran for help while several more employees arrived on scene and tried to move the chain. The tension was too tight, bolt cutters were obtained and the chain was cut. The victim was removed and CPR was initiated by the company's first responders. Emergency personnel arrived within minutes and the victim was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The Nebraska Workforce Development, Department of Labor's Investigator concluded that to help prevent future similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that warning devices themselves do not create a greater hazard. 2. Develop, implement and enforce a forklift training program for all employees that may operate such equipment. 3. Ensure that all equipment has an established maintenance program as recommended by the manufacturer. 4. Develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive safety program that includes, but is not limited to, training in all hazard recognition.
Region-7; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Safety-programs; Training; Equipment-operators; Warehousing; Food-processing-industry; Food-processing-workers
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-02NE011; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-709864
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Nebraska Department of Labor
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division