The forklift is as indispensable in industry as it is life-threatening if not operated correctly. In the USA alone, forklift accidents lead to 85 deaths a year and account for one in six of all fatal workplace accidents.
In both the UK and Sweden, figures show that forklifts account for more workplace accidents than any other machine. In the UK alone, forklift accidents result in 300 hospital visits a year, which, according to the British Safety Council, is five British workers a day. The most vulnerable are workplace walkers, who make up 57 per cent of those injured in the UK and 80 per cent of those injured in the USA. In their study, the British Safety Council claim that many of the accidents could have been avoided if companies had been more stringent in cordoning off walking and driving areas.
In the USA, where 85 people are killed and 34,900 are seriously injured in forklift accidents every year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) say that the number of accidents would drop by 70 per cent if companies were to provide more training programmes and adopt more stringent safety measures. In addition to the suffering that would be avoided, the overall cost of accidents would fall by USD 94.5 million a year.
Australia is one country that has steadily reduced the number of forklift accidents. In 2008, the number of seriously injured people was registered at 1,100. Seven years later it had dropped to 800. The country has invested heavily in the safety training of forklift drivers and other employees at workplaces where forklifts are used.
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