Forklift Accidents

4 main Types of Accidents

A forklift tip over is the number one accident involving a forklift.  OSHA’s Office of Data Analysis examined 53 investigative case files involving powered industrial Truck fatalities that occurred between 1980-1986 and found that the single largest accident was vehicle tipovers.

The Main Types of Accidents

Tip Overs

These tip overs—both forward tip and side-to-side tip—occurred in many ways:

  • The powered industrial truck was out of control, such as speeding or driving with elevated loads.
  • The operator tried to make too sharp of a turn.
  • The vehicle skidded on a slippery surface.
  • The operator ran over a raised object, such as wood or curbing.
  • Forklift capacity was exceeded.

Falling Loads

The third highest accident was getting hit by a falling load. This is where the load is unstable, it is then lifted into the air and it falls on someone below. The operator of a forklift is ALWAYS responsible for the loads they carry, whether that operator stacked the pallet or not. If the load is unstable, get off the forklift and restack it, wrap it, or band it.

Crush Accidents

The second highest accident in the report occurred when employees were crushed between a vehicle and surface. These accidents were caused by:

  • An operator driving with their leg hanging out and then sideswiping racking or a wall.
  • Elevating people on platforms and crushing them against an overhead surface.

Improper Lifting (People)

The fourth highest number of accidents was caused by lifting people up on the forks of a forklift. The most common mistake here is when people get on an empty pallet (or no pallet at all) and stand on 3-inch wide forks while being lifted in the air with no guardrails around them. If someone were to lose their balance, there is nothing to keep them from falling to the concrete floor below. Remember, the concrete will survive the fall, the person probably will not. There are other means to lift personnel into the air, such as order pickers or scissors lifts that have the appropriate guarding or restraining systems to keep people from falling.

The report points to many more accidents; these are the top 4. What do all of these accidents have in common? Most, if not all, were operator error. Faulty forklifts accounted for only 4 percent of accidents. A forklift tip over alone accounts for almost 26 percent of all forklift accidents. the operator has control over the forklift. As you read above, a forklift tipped over because the operator was doing something wrong…

  • turning on a ramp
  • turning with an elevated load
  • running over a raised object
  • carrying too heavy a load
  • speeding over un-level ground
  • driving off a dock
  • Not adjusting or slowing down for unsafe surface conditions

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Got Questions?

If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.