Warehouses and distribution centers are more important than ever. Even as brick-and-mortar retail businesses close, consumers do more online shopping each year. You are among those warehouse workers in Ohio who pick and distribute those purchases.
It is easy to underestimate the dangers inherent in warehouse work. When you become accustomed to the towering levels of inventory, the fast-moving equipment and the ever-increasing quotas, it is not always easy to remember critical safety training. Nevertheless, working in a warehouse is one of the most dangerous occupations to have, particularly when it comes to forklift accidents.
The benefits and dangers of forklifts
Forklifts come in many sizes and have a variety of uses. Generally, they allow you to transfer stock from trucks to shelves and from shelves to packing areas when these moves would be impossible by hand. With a forklift, you can house substantially more inventory in a smaller space because you can stack shelves higher.
With all these benefits comes added danger. The design of forklifts allows them to lift and move extremely heavy burdens, so they weigh about three times as much as a typical automobile. Their weight is balanced differently than a car because of the excessive loads they carry on their front ends. They also turn differently to allow them to maneuver in tight spaces. Some of the common accidents associated with forklifts include:
- Being struck by a forklift
- Falling off a forklift while riding on the forks
- Jumping from a forklift that is tipping over
- Having debris or merchandise fall on you after a forklift strikes shelving
- Falling while standing on the elevated forks or from a high shelf
The last type of accident may occur when your employer does not provide you with the appropriate equipment for reaching higher shelves. There are specific machines, such as platforms lifts and high-lift order pickers that allow you to reach high inventory safely.
Your employer’s responsibility
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict guidelines in place for training forklift operators. No employee may drive a forklift without undergoing rigorous instruction, hands-on practice and frequent evaluation. Even with this training, a forklift operator may become complacent, reckless or negligent, placing you and your coworkers in jeopardy.
If your employer fails to provide proper equipment, training and maintenance to ensure safety on the job, you are at risk of injury. While workers’ compensation covers workplace injuries, there may be cause for a third-party claim, depending on the circumstances of your accident. An attorney with experience in work injuries can assist you.