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Negligent operation of forklifts can cause permanent disability

Although forklifts are used in many industries in Colorado, their presence in lumberyards typically causes severe hazards. The risks of serious injuries -- and even permanent disability -- apply not only to the operators of lift trucks but also workers sharing their workspaces with these dangerous machines. Because the use of forklifts is so prevalent and they are such familiar machines moving about lumber yards, employers and employees sometimes disregard the hazards they pose.

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, and it is their duty to ensure that only qualified drivers operate forklifts. They must offer recurring training at regular intervals -- both operational and safety training. Drivers must know how to secure loads, as well as how to identify unbalanced or insecure loads. Both pedestrian workers and forklift operators must learn to look out for each other, and during loading and offloading from commercial trucks, the vehicle's wheels must be chocked.

Forklift operators must avoid speeding and never exceed 10 mph. Any areas with restricted visibility must be approached with caution, preferably in reverse. Drivers must avoid sudden turns and ensure they lower the fork when they park the vehicle. People should never use the forklift as transport, and the horn should be used to signal approach when entering intersections or doorways. Stunt driving and horseplay must be strictly prohibited.

All working parts of a forklift must be subject to daily inspections, and safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, backup alarms, warning lights, and overhead guards must always be in place. Any victims of forklift accidents, from minor injuries to those causing permanent disability, are entitled to pursue financial assistance. They may even seek the help of an experienced Colorado workers' compensation attorney to navigate benefits claims for them.

Source: bmjournal.com, "8 Steps To Forklift Safety", April 19, 2017

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