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Forklift operator dies when head caught in lowering mast.

Michigan State University
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 05MI078, 2006 Nov; :1-9
On July 28, 2005, at approximately 11:35 p.m., a 25-year-old male forklift operator was injured when his head was caught in the lowering mast of the forklift he was operating. He subsequently died as a result of these injuries on August 9, 2005. The decedent was working on the shipping dock operating a Toyota Model #7FGCU25 industrial forklift. He was assisting two coworkers and a dock supervisor in unloading pallets from a tractor-trailer parked in shipping bay #6. As he backed from the trailer with two pallets on the forks, one of the employees noticed that there was no shipping paperwork on top of the upper pallet. The decedent lowered the load, then backed up and lifted the top pallet approximately three to four feet above the lower pallet. The shipping paperwork was on the top of the lower pallet. The decedent could not see the shipping label from a seated position. He placed his left foot on the brake, stood up, and leaned forward, placing his head through the mast of the forklift to read the label. As he leaned forward, his right leg pressed the mast up/down control lever forward. This caused the mast to lower, pinning his head and neck in the mast. All three coworkers ran to the dispatcher's office to call 911. During this time the victim remained pinned in the mast. Another employee who was in the dispatch office ran to the forklift and lifted the mast from the decedent's neck, but did not move him. Another coworker placed him in the forklift seat. Approximately three to four minutes later, the local police arrived. At no time from the time of the incident to police arrival had any life saving procedures or CPR been performed. EMS arrived a few minutes after the police and began life saving procedures. The victim was taken to a local hospital, stabilized, and then airlifted to a second hospital. He died 12 days later. Recommendations: 1. Employers should instruct forklift operators never to stand inside the cage of the forklift nor place any part of their body through the mast while it is in operation. 2. Employers should ensure forklift operators follow the procedures for which they have been trained, such as wearing the seat belt, never standing inside the forklift cage, and prohibiting the placement of any part of their body through the mast while in operation. 3. Employers should periodically reinforce safety training of supervisors and workers regarding the hazards associated with specific work assignments and safe work practices. 4. Employers should ensure that at least one person on each shift is certified in First Aid/CPR, should strongly consider having an individual certified as a Medical First Responder or Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and hold at least semi-annual workplace First Aid/rescue practices.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Warehousing; Equipment-operators
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-05MI078; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division