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Hazard

Employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck by a forklift operating with an obstructed forward view.

Process

A forklift with a clamp attachment is used to carry rolls of newsprint from a warehouse to a container for shipment by truck.

Activity at time of incident:

A forklift operator was proceeding towards an intermodal shipping container as an employee on foot was crossing in front of the container.

Incident Description

Setting:

A forklift operator is transferring rolls of newsprint from a storage area in a warehouse to a container at a loading dock for truck shipment. The operator carries a single roll at a time, with the load attached in a clamp in front of the forklift. Each roll weighs approximately 5,000 pounds. The forklift operator travels through several passageways in the warehouse to reach the container. The operator loads the roll of newsprint into the container from an elevated platform adjacent to the container.

Incident:

At the time of the incident, an employee was crossing the loading dock as the forklift was entering the container. The employee was killed after being caught between the container and the forklift's load, a 5,000-pound roll of newsprint.

Relevant Factors:

Forklift operators failed to use their horns when approaching locations where visibility was obstructed.

Supervisors had not received formal training in accident prevention.

Applicable Standards and Control Measures
  • 29 CFR 1917.43(b)(8): Powered industrial trucks - General. "The employer shall direct drivers to slow down and sound the horn at crossaisles and other locations where visibility is obstructed."

This hazard might have been prevented if the employer had ensured that the forklift operator had a clear forward view, used a spotter when entering the container, and sounded the horn whenever visibility was obstructed.

  • 29 CFR 1917.43(b)(9): Powered industrial trucks - General. "If the load obstructs the forward view, the employer shall direct drivers to travel with the load trailing going from the warehouse to the container."

This hazard might have been prevented if the forklift operator had a clear forward view by traveling with the roll of newsprint trailing.

  • 29 CFR 1917.27(b)(1): Personnel - Supervisory accident prevention proficiency. "After October 3, 1985 immediate supervisors of more than five (5) persons shall satisfactorily complete a course in accident prevention. Employees newly assigned to supervisory duties after that date shall be required to meet the provisions of this paragraph within ninety (90) days of such assignment."

This accident might have been prevented if the employer had provided accident awareness training to supervisors in accordance with 1917.27(b)(1), including the following topics: safety responsibility and authority, elements of accident prevention, and recognition of longshoring hazards.

Other Relevant Standards and/or Control Measures

Clearly marked travel aisles should be established in the warehouse for forklift traffic and pedestrians must remain outside of these designated vehicle travel aisles.

Workers should not be inside or adjacent to containers as they are being loaded with cargo.

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