“It appears to just be an industrial accident . . .”
Stand up Forklift Operator Killed in latest Underride Accident
On Wednesday April 19, 2023, a stand up forklift operator, aged 62, was killed in an underride accident at a manufacturer in West Point, Georgia. This occurred when the driver backed into a horizontal shelf and was pinned between the front of the operator compartment and the shelf.
The local Sherrif’s office has since investigated and OSHA was notified. A Sherrif’s office spokesperson said “It appears to just be an industrial accident . . .” You can read the full story here:
Many stand up forklifts are built such that the operator compartment is open at the back; there is no protective structure reaching from the overhead guard to the forklift body. The operator is exposed if the forklift reverses into racking. The forklift body can ride under a horizontal rack beam, crushing the operator. See the illustration below.
Source: OSHA, Stand-up Forklift Under-ride Hazards, Safety and Health Information Bulletin, SHIB 07-27-2009
Stand up forklift underride is not “just . . . an industrial accident.” It is a crushing collision that causes horrific life altering injuries or death. Nor is it a “freak accident”. It is a well-documented and widely known hazard.
In addition, forklift underride hazards are among the easiest to prevent. Managers at warehouses, distribution centres, storage facilities, “Big Box” stores and other workplaces with stand-up forklifts, reach trucks and racking should take the following preventive actions:
- Managers, employees and safety officers should conduct assessments for underride hazards.
- Managers should communicate all potential underride hazard areas.
- Train all stand-up forklift operators to safely operate their vehicles, and emphasize keeping a direct line of sight when travelling and looking toward the direction of travel at all times.
- Install protective rear guards to enclose the operator compartment. Every forklift should have a physical structure protecting the operator’s rear from objects outside the vehicle.*
*All protective rear guards installed must comply with the standards set out in ASME/ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 Safety Standard for Low Lift and High Lift Trucks, Clauses 7.29 and 7.30.
Let’s avoid further loss of life and devasting injuries. A few simple steps can forestall tragedy.
Consider installing The Backbone® for Reach Trucks on all your stand up forklifts. Manufactured by Lakeport Metalcraft Inc., The Backbone is an ANSI/ITSDF B56.1 compliant attachment designed to protect your operators from underride. Visit www.LakeportMetalcraft.com, or contact Norm Nopper at n.nopper@LakeportMetalcraft.com or 416.587.5809.