<-- -->

Get Help Now From Lexington’s

“Favorite Attorney”

Voted Seventh Year in a Row

Meet Attorney Frank Jenkins

Forklift Accidents and Hazards for Workers

Our Kentucky workers compensation attorneys report that forklifts can create hazard for workers.

Forklifts are a vital part of many businesses, enabling workers to lift and move heavy loads without straining their backs and muscles. But if you operate a forklift while on the job, the odds are great you will be involved in an accident during your career.

A Laurel County man was hospitalized in early September after suffering an injury in a forklift accident at Laurel Cookie Factory in Lexington, according to a lex18.com article.

Walter Garrett, 35, got pinned between a forklift and a wall at the cookie factory when he stepped off the forklift to put shrink wrap on a pallet, police reported. A co-worker found him pinned by the forklift and indicated the lift was in gear and the brake wasn’t set, the report said. He was taken by helicopter to UK Hospital where he was listed in fair condition. The injured worker’s medical care should be fully covered by his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

This type of accident is one of the most common types of forklift accidents, and fortunately Mr. Garrett survived. The Occupational Safety and Hazard Agency (OSHA) estimates forklifts cause about 85 deadly accidents each year. Another 34,900 of these incidents lead to serious injuries and still another 61,800 result in non-serious injuries, according to toolboxtopics.com.

Types of Forklift Accidents

The Industrial Truck Association reports about 855,900 forklifts are being used on job sites across the country. That means about 11 percent of them will be involved in some sort of accident every year.

Powered industrial trucks, commonly referred to as forklifts, are typically used to raise, lower or remove large objects packaged in boxes, crates or containers.

Multiple types of forklifts are manufactured to meet various industry needs, and they all pose a variety of hazards. High-lift riders, for example, are more likely to be involved in a falling accident than a motorized hand truck because they allow a sitting rider to lift a load much higher, according to osha.gov.

The type of workplace and its conditions present factors in forklift accidents as well. Retail establishments usually present greater problems for pedestrian safety than other job sites, OSHA points out. In addition, warehouse workers are likely to be injured when lift trucks run off loading docks or lifts fall between loading docks and unsecured trailers.

Most Common Types of Forklift Accidents

  • Crushed by vehicle tipping over, 42 percent
  • Crushed between vehicle and a surface, 25 percent
  • Crushed between two vehicles, 11 percent
  • Struck or run over by forklift, 10 percent
  • Hit by falling material, 8 percent
  • Fall from platform on the forks, 4 percent

Job Locations of Forklift Fatalities

  • Manufacturing, 42.5 percent
  • Construction, 23.8 percent
  • Wholesale trades, 12.5 percent
  • Transportation, 11 percent
  • Retail trade, 9 percent
  • Mining, 1.2 percent

Safety Requirements

Federal law prohibits anyone under 18 from operating a forklift, and all operators over 18 must be properly trained and certified to drive the vehicle.

Employers must make sure all forklift operators are trained and evaluated in safe operation of powered industrial trucks. Federal law requires employers to set up a safe and healthful workplace and prohibits retaliation against employees who raise complaints about workplace health and safety or file an injury report, under federal whistleblower laws.


  • Wearing a safety belt is one of the best safety measures a forklift operator can take.
  • When driving with a load, it is also beset to keep the load as low as possible to prevent the truck from tipping over.
  • If a truck starts to tip over, it is better to stay inside the truck than to try and jump out.
  • The most typical injury is one in which the driver jumps out and lands on the floor or ground and is struck a crushing blow by the overhead guard.

If you are a forklift operator, make sure you go through proper training and certification. Take steps to ensure your workplace is as safe as possible. Don’t be afraid to report any trouble spots.

Sometimes, accidents can happen no matter how rigorous the training or how clean the work site. If you have been injured in a workplace accident and are having difficulty collecting workers’ compensation benefits, contact an attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation cases to make sure you receive the full benefits you deserve.