Forklift Deaths - How Rare Are They Around the World?

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POSTED: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 11:47am

UPDATED: Friday, May 2, 2014 - 7:27am

Forklifts can be found in many workplaces throughout the world, although they are primarily used in the movement of cargo and other supplies.
They are effective in this regard, especially in any industry where time is a strong factor, such as offloading cargo at a port or warehouse. The popularity of forklifts and their relatively simple operation may lead you or your workers to underestimate the risk posed by improper use of the machines. Each year, there are myriad injuries associated with the use of forklifts worldwide.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established training guidelines and regulations pertaining to the safe operation of forklifts. There can be hefty fines associated with noncompliance, but the danger posed to workers should outweigh any concern over monetary penalty. In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 67 deaths resulting from forklifts in America.
While that may sound like a low number, you should keep in mind they resulted from machines which top out at around 9 miles per hour. The number has been declining in recent years, and can be attributed to OSHA certified forklift training.

Injury Numbers Are Markedly Higher
In addition to deaths, there are about 94,000 injuries each year in the U.S., of which around 35,000 are listed as serious. The vast majority of injuries and deaths due to forklift accidents stem from the operators not being properly trained. As more and more companies comply with OSHA certified forklift training, the rates of injury and death will surely continue to decline.

America is not the only country to suffer from workplace related accidents involving forklifts. In many other countries, no entity like OSHA exists to keep workers safe. Jobs are merely completed in the easiest fashion possible, and requirements such as driver training are simply not emphasized or required.

In Scotland, a 4.8% increase in forklift accidents took place between 2010 and 2011. Reliable statistics from most nations are hard to pinpoint as most other countries do not have standard tracking and reporting systems. If 67 deaths occurred in America in 2011, you can bet that in a country like China the number would be significantly higher. That is due to a number of factors, chief among them being the lack of regulation and enforcement and the overall population size of China over the U.S.

In short, OSHA certified forklift training makes your workplace safer. Not just for the operators themselves, but for every fellow worker who may be injured due to unsafe operation. Remember, as with car accidents, the drivers are not the only ones affected when an accident occurs. Innocent bystanders as well as the drivers themselves can be seriously injured or killed because of unsafe operation or lack of training. 

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