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Improper use of forklifts in the workplace

Pennsylvania workers who are not given the proper equipment to access work surfaces may be in danger of injury. One report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration examined a fatality that occurred at a warehouse when a man was riding on a pallet that had been lifted by a forklift to a shelf containing inventory. While this was common in that particular workplace, this was not how the equipment was supposed to be used. The worker fell 7 feet and died in the hospital a few days later.

An investigation found that the employer had not provided employees with equipment they could use to get to inventory on high shelves. The employer also did not ban employees from using the forklift to get to high shelves, which was contrary to the equipment manufacturer's instructions. Additionally, the employer failed to ensure that the forklift operators had the necessary training and certification. This would have included requiring an approved personnel lifting platform to lift employees to the shelves instead of a pallet that was not designed for that purpose.

There are a number of things employers can do to prevent falls such as these from happening. Workers should always have the equipment and tools they need for any job. For lifting workers in a warehouse, there should be lifting platforms for personnel that include guardrails. Workers need fall protection, and those who operate or work near forklifts need formal training.

In general, people who are injured on the job are usually eligible for workers' compensation regardless of fault. Injured workers might want to work with an attorney to file a claim for benefits or if they have been told by an employer that they are not eligible. Some employers might try to discourage employees from applying for compensation or may threaten retaliation, but this is prohibited.

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