Slide 1

This short presentation describes a preventable workplace incident where a worker in Washington state was killed on the job and is narrated by the L & I safety inspector who conducted the investigation. To view the narration script, click on the button on the lower right corner of the screen. To move between slides, or view a particular slide again, click on the same lower right hand corner button and then click on the back and forward arrows at the bottom of the screen.

Forklift Fatality

Hello, this is Keith Koskela with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in the Dept. of Labor and Industries where I work as a safety inspector. I was assigned to conduct the investigation of the death of a 39 year old forklift driver who was killed when his 1991 Datsun forklift overturned while lifting a large concrete block.

Slide 3

The worker was assigned to move large concrete blocks to build the wall shown in the upper photo using a forklift with an boom or metal extension attached to the forks shown on the lower photo. The metal extension had not been approved by the forklift company as required.

Slide 4

When the worker attempted to lift the 3,340 pound block onto the top of the wall, the forklift tipped over on itís left side. The two photos show the overturned forklift from upslope and downslope. The worker was unable to jump out of the way and the top of the forklift cage hit his head, killing him instantly.

Slide 5

The forklift was working on a 12 degree slope as shown on the clinometer in this photo. The combination of the weight of the block and the slope caused the forklift to tip over when the worker raised the forks with the block attached.

Slide 6

As you can see from this photo, the forklift had tip-over warning signs on the operating controls console. Also shown is the load chart for this forklift. The concrete block was 72 inches from the forklift mast. The rated capacity of the forklift at that distance is 2825 pounds. Since the concrete block weighed over 3300 pounds, the capacity of the this forklift had been exceeded. Unfortunately, the worker had not received any formal training on forklift operation and safety.

Slide 7

This drawing shows how the stability of a forklift goes way down when a heavy object is lifted, and when the object is not kept close to the mast. Operating sideways on a slope further decreases the stability of a forklift. Proper training of the deceased worker would have included that fact.

Slide 8

The Datsun forklift did not have the fasten seat belt sign on its console since it was manufactured before 1992, but a seatbelt had been installed. However, it was determined that the employer did not consistently enforce the use of seatbelts among forklift operators and, in this instance, the operator was not wearing one.

Slide 9

Seatbelts are required on all forklifts manufactured since 1992 and can be retrofitted on all older models, as was the case in this incident. Other forklift fatalities have occurred when the operator was either thrown out of the forklift or they tried to jump out when the forklift overturned. Seat belts prevent that.

Slide 10

This fatality could have been easily avoided if a few basic principles had been followed. Be sure to get or provide forklift training for forklift operators. Know the loading capacity of your forklift. Donít put extensions on the forks without getting approval of the forklift manufacturer first. And always, always make sure forklift operators wear a seatbelt!! Help us keep Washington Safe and Working.