The Indiana Department of Labor has slapped mega online seller Amazon with
a $28,000 state fine over several safety violations that resulted from
a warehouse worker’s death after a forklift lift fell on him. The
IDL’s order says, “Amazon didn’t provide adequate training
and safety procedures weren’t followed” before the September
2017 tragic accident at the company’s Plainfield distribution center.
The 59-year-old employee from Indianapolis was fatally crushed by the
lift when it fell on him while doing maintenance work on the heavy machine.
Amazon has until early December to correct the safety violations and just
a few weeks left to appeal the fine. Of the top 10 workplace violations,
forklift violation is typically the number one citation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that
one million forklifts, also known as powered industrial trucks (PITSs),
are used in workplaces across the United States and take the lives of
nearly 100 workers and leaving another 20,000 seriously injured in related
incidents each year. Workers can be injured in rollover accidents, crushed
by falling objects and cargo, or even run over by forklift operators who
are distracted or are not following safety protocols that are designed
to prevent careless operation. These trucks remain extremely dangerous
given the size and weight.
In most construction and manufacturing industries, forklifts are used each
day to lift heavy loads and transport supplies. They can either be ridden
by a trained operator or controlled by a walking operator. According to
Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, PITs can be especially unforgiving under the wrong conditions. A
2016 article stated, “Operators need to understand that PITs are very different
from regular vehicles in the way they maneuver and are balanced. Employees
who have never driven a PIT will not have the innate knowledge and skill
to drive one without training.” For this reason, much of the required
training is focused on operation, load capacity, stability, and understanding
operating limitations which include:
OSHA officials say, “Employers must ensure that each powered industrial
truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely,
as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation.”
This means only certain individuals are trained and approved to operate
this machinery, as it takes special learned skills to control such vehicles.
However, even the most experienced forklift operators can be involved
in a catastrophic accident ending with a tragic workplace injury or even
death. It is a violation of Federal law for anyone under the age of 18
to operate a forklift or for anyone over 18-years-old who is not properly
trained and certified to do so.
OSHA research has shown that both defective and failing products such as
overhead guards, backrest extensions, blades and restraint systems, or
improper training and maintenance are at the center of most
forklift accidents and injuries, leaving the employer liable. When this happens, the injured person or
deceased worker’s family may have a case to support their need for
compensation to cover lost wages, medical bills and related healthcare
expenses, disability payments, pain and suffering including emotional
distress, as well as other needs specific to their case. If you or someone
you know has been killed or injured in a forklift accident or other industrial
vehicle accident, they should follow these steps.
Forklift accidents can be fatal or have lifelong, disastrous outcomes and
the injuries can be more than physical but still happen each day even
though workers have the right to a safe workplace.
If you sustained an injury or lost a family member because of a workplace
forklift accident, Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese can handle your accident
work injury or wrongful death claim with years of experience and proven
results. Employers are prohibited from reacting against employees for
raising a health and safety concern or reporting an injury. Call the law
firm of Wagner Reese today 888-710-9377 for your FREE consultation!