Accident Control of Forklift Trucks – The need for immediate attention

With the industrialization, materials handling in industry has undergone complete change from manual handling of ????????materials to mechanized handling. Forklift truck is widely used in the industry as well in business for lifting, unloading and moving materials from one place to another place. Manufacturing units, warehouses and other activities in different walks of the daily life are using forklift truck extensively. During the transition period of mechanization, new challenges are faced in form of accidents which can be fatal or non-fatal.

Dimension of the Forklift Hazards

According to the report of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (2012), Forklifts in US cause about 85 fatal accidents each year resulting in 34,900 serious injuries and 61,800 non-serious. The number of Forklift in US is 855,900. OSHA reports that every year, over 11% of all the Forklifts in United States will be involved in some form of accidents.

It has been observed that the accidents do not so much involve the operator but as to other workers working in the area or the pedestrians. The damages are to the worker, materials being handled as well as to the Forklift truck itself. Different studies have been carried out from time to time by different agencies to understand the types of accidents, reasons of the accidents and to suggest how the accidents can be controlled to increase the productivity of the organization.

Reasons of forklift fatalities from the accidents

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) summarized the forklift fatalities in 1998 based on its investigations. The various reasons for the fatalities listed areas below:

  • Employee struck by the forklift.
  • Forklift tip over.
  • Fall from the platform on forklift.
  • Worker crushed by forklift.
  • Worker struck by load toppling from forklift
  • Fall from the forklift.
  • Forklift tipped over while towed.
  • Fall from ladder struck by forklift

The above reasons of accidents can be traced to poor or lack of training of the operators of Forklift. Unsuitable workplace, improper surface area, poor layout, and design of the working area, poor system design, poor lighting and poor maintenance are other reasons associated to the accidents.


What are the losses due to accidents?  

The losses to the industry and to the society due to accidents are many and varies in nature and severity. A number of losses can be the result of an accident, for example:

  • Loss to the employer in the form of compensation for the injury to the workers involved in the accident.
  • Loss to the organization due to absence of the worker from work affecting the work productivity. If the worker is expert and trained, the gap created due to his absence may be difficult to be filled.
  • Loss to the organization due to damage to the forklift truck itself, which may adversely affect day to day work.
  • Loss of materials being handled due to damage from accident.
  • Delay in the operations and maintenance works till the material is replenished.
  • Loss to the organization due to additional work created in the purchase of damaged items. Materials department has to redo the procurement, finance department has to process the bills again and maintenance department has to carry out certain functions in handling the damaged items. Even the production planning department will be required to do re-planning.
  • Insurance claims may take long time in settlement.
  • Increased union activities or intervention of regulatory authorities due to accidents.
  • Lower morale on the other employees in the organization
  • Families of the affected workers suffer due to lower wage during the period of recovery of the injured worker and his impaired capacity to work in future.
  • Distraction of management attention from the main activities.


Management must take note of the various reasons of the accidents of Forklift trucks in the industry and their consequences on the operational efficiency, worker morale, and drain on the organizational resources. They must make system to report each and every accident and analyze them in depth. Attention must be focused on the work place adequacy, proper layout, facility planning, good working practices and proper maintenance of the Forklifts and the areas of operations. Proper lighting and smooth working area avoiding level difference of working area will help reduce accidents. Operator’s training is key to reduce the menace of accidents of Forklifts.

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