Section I: Vehicular Accidents
Summary No. 10 - Forklift Truck Operations
Employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck by a forklift truck with an obstructed forward view.
A forklift truck transfers paper rolls from a cargo vessel to a pier shed (warehouse).
Activity at time of incident:
The forklift operator was driving through the doorway of the pier shed while another employee was standing in the doorway.
Longshoremen are transferring paper rolls from a cargo vessel to a pier shed, using a crane and forklift trucks. The paper rolls, which are each approximately 50 inches in diameter and weigh about 1,500 pounds, are lifted out of the vessel and placed on the pier by an on-board crane. The rolls are then picked up and carried by the forklift with a front clamp attachment. Each load consists of six rolls, stacked in two side-by-side columns of three rolls. There are two gangs performing the unloading operation, each consisting of 11 employees (4 piermen, 4 holdmen, 1 deckman, 1 crane operator, and a gang carrier). After the forklift drivers pick up the paper rolls, they back down the pier, pass the shed door, then drive forward a few feet and turn right through the door into the shed, and place the rolls on the floor for the longshoremen to pick up and distribute in the shed. The shed door is 20 feet wide and the pier apron is 36 feet wide.
At the time of the incident, the gang carrier (the victim) was standing near the center of the doorway of the shed, as the driver turned right into the shed doorway. The left front side of the forklift struck the gang carrier and killed him.
Despite training, the forklift driver failed to slow down and sound the horn as he turned the vehicle through the doorway of the shed. Several employees observed the incident and shouted at the forklift driver to stop. However, the forklift driver could not hear them over the noise at the site.
A video camera mounted on the right side frame of the forklift truck, intended to provide a clear line of sight for the operator to engage/disengage the load, was inoperative.
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 forklift drivers always slowed down and sounded the horn before turning into the pier shed. Additionally, the employer should have evaluated the paper roll unloading operation and the associated traffic patterns. This hazard may have been prevented if the employer had established designated pedestrian and vehicle lanes, one way traffic flow, and had ensured that there were visible and audible devices to warn pedestrians of approaching traffic.
Workers should not be permitted to stand in door openings in active cargo transit areas.