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Beware, forklifts are more dangerous than they appear to be

If you are a forklift operator in Minnesota, you might not realize the perils of your occupation -- some of which can be deadly. These vehicles are more dangerous than they appear to be, and forklift accidents can have devastating consequences. Safety authorities say a significant percentage of annual workplace fatalities nationwide result from forklift accidents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict forklift-related safety standards in place. The agency maintains that most forklift accidents are preventable by compliance with safety regulations.

Precautions you can take to stay safe:

If you receive adequate training in the safe operation of a forklift, your chances of staying out of the hospital will be significant. However, the following are additional precautions to take to ensure the safety of your co-workers:

  • Parking: Park the forklift in a safe spot at the end of your shift, and remove the keys to prevent unauthorized operation.
  • Pedestrian barriers: Sturdy steel pipe bollards are effective barriers to protect structures, equipment and pedestrians. Crash barriers are fence-like barriers to prevent pedestrian injuries, and safe pallet racks can eliminate pallet-related injuries.

What makes a forklift dangerous?

Although forklifts might seem the ideal toys with which grown workers can play around, they are quite the opposite. Never lose sight of the fact that your forklift could weigh three times as much as an average car, and irresponsible use can cause death. You and your co-workers can prevent accidents by taking note of the following:

  • Weight distribution: The majority of the weight of a forklift is in the rear to counterweight the load on the fork. The imbalance of the weight increases the likelihood of the machine rolling over.
  • Speed: The slow pace at which you travel might seem safe, but there is a risk of serious injuries even if you go at only 18 mph.
  • Obstructed view: The load you carry on the fork will often obstruct your view, putting you at risk regardless of the speed at which you travel or the weight you carry.

You can avoid becoming a statistic by following safety standards. Attend frequent training sessions because, even if you have heard it all, it will remind you of the dangers and prevent complacency.

How will you cope if an injury prevents you from working?

Forklift-related injuries can cause temporary disability that might prevent you from returning to work for weeks or even months. How will you care for your family during that time? The Minnesota workers' compensation insurance system will cover your medical expenses and a percentage of your lost income -- regardless of who was at fault. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help with the claims process to prevent delayed compensation payments.

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