Forklift operator runs over coworker

    forklift expert witnessThis case involves an accident at a logistics warehouse for a major electronics supplier in the Midwest. The plaintiff is a thirty-seven-year-old male truck driver who had been working for the company for 10 years. One morning, he arrived at the shipping warehouse as usual and was waiting for his truck to be loaded with computer parts. As he waited, he stood outside of his truck having a conversation with another employee. As they were talking, one of the forklift operators tasked with loading the man’s truck drove around the corner near the truck. The forklift driver was facing forward. The forklift carried a pallet containing boxes of big-screen televisions that obstructed his view of his path of travel. As a result, the forklift driver didn’t see the plaintiff standing near his truck and ran him over. The accident permanently disabled the plaintiff, breaking several bones and causing a traumatic brain injury. He is no longer able to drive and he cannot work. He can never return to his former lifestyle and the accident has had a considerable impact on his family.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • When a forklift operator’s view is hindered by his load, do Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations mandate that the operator drive their forklift in reverse?

    Expert Witness Response E-000398

    The simple answer is yes, OSHA does mandate reverse operation in this circumstance. OSHA standards for workplace safety state that a forklift operator should not transport a pallet that is large enough to obstruct the view of the route. If you are carrying a pallet large enough to hinder your forward field of vision, then OSHA does mandate operating the forklift in reverse. OSHA recognizes that failure to do so puts the driver and his/her coworkers in jeopardy.

    This expert has been certified in the operation of a forklift truck. This expert teaches forklift certification classes, and he supervises forklift operations and training of employees. He has more than 20 years of experience studying, teaching and enforcing OSHA regulations governing forklift operations.

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