When most people head to work in the morning they never imagine that they could suffer serious injury or death just from doing their job. Work is such a common activity it feels mundane to most people, this is especially true for those that frequently engage in routine tasks. The more you do the same thing, the less likely you are to imagine what could happen if something should go wrong. A recent incident in Hattiesburg illustrates why workers and their employers should remain vigilant at all times, as bad things can happen anywhere.
According to authorities, a worker from Hattiesburg, MS died early this week in a workplace accident. The specific cause of his death was an accident involving the forklift he was driving. According to the coroner in charge, the 54-year-old man died while pressure washing. The forklift he was on, while working at Blendco, tipped over and crushed him. The injuries were severe and he passed away, despite efforts to save him.
The accident might seem shocking. After all, the man wasn’t a police officer or a miner or a deep-sea diver. Rather than work in a notoriously dangerous profession, this man drove a forklift for a living. Forklifts are commonplace and are operated safely every day without incident. In fact, there are nearly 1,000,000 forklifts in operation in the United States, meaning many thousands of other workers are exposed to similar harms all the time.
Though commonplace, it’s important to understand that forklifts are a known source of injury and, in some cases, even death. In one horrible case, a man who was filming a safety instructional video for forklift operators was killed when he was thrown from the forklift he was driving and crushed. A subsequent investigation found that his lack of a seat belt, coupled with other unsafe conditions, led to his death.
These accidents occur with far too much frequency. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 100,000 accidents happen each year involving forklifts. Of these, 35,000 typically result in serious injuries. Even more alarming, 85 people die each year from forklift fatalities, meaning more than 1 person each and every week.
What kinds of injuries are most often deadly? The largest cause of fatal accidents is when the forklift tips over, just like what happened in Hattiesburg. It’s for this reason that it’s crucial that operators move slowly and ensure that their load is balanced. Another cause of death is getting stuck between the forklift and a surface, like a wall. Being trapped between two forklifts, being run over by a forklift and being injured from falling material while operating a forklift are other causes of death.
So what can you do to protect yourself and others? Wear a seat belt. According to safety experts the safest place to be around a forklift is strapped into the seat by a safety belt. Though workers should take this step for themselves, it’s up to employers to require workers to prioritize safety. OSHA’s enforcement policy says that employers are obligated to require their employees to use safety devices to secure themselves. Employers who fail to implement these kinds of safety protocols will be on the hook should something terrible happen.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at (601) 856-7800.