Oregon OSHA's

Health and Safety Resource

Newsletter

August 5, 2016

Safety Notes

Accident Report

Incident: Run over by forklift
Industry: Berry processing plant
Victim: Farm employee

An employee was walking across a lot when he was run over by a forklift that was backing up.

The employer owns and operates a farm and a berry processing plant that takes raw product and turns it into puree. The farm and the processing plant are on the same property.

How did it happen?

The forklift operator was unloading goods from a truck on a lot in front of the plant where product is normally unloaded. Meanwhile, an employee was walking across the lot to a break room to clock in for the start of his shift.

The forklift was moving backward because the load obscured the operator's forward visibility.

The employee thought he had safely passed the forklift and was 30 feet from the break room when the forklift suddenly turned to the left and struck him. He held on to the back of the forklift for a few feet until his foot got caught under the left wheel and he was dragged underneath.

Two other employees saw the forklift striking the employee and yelled at the operator to stop. By the time the forklift finally stopped, the employee was under it up to his waist. He had fractured both feet, both legs, and his pelvis.

graphic of forklift at farm
Illustration: Patricia Young

Findings

  • The employer failed to establish designated forklift travel paths and pedestrian walkways.
  • The forklift operator used a portable loading ramp in the lot between the processing plant and the rest of the farm outbuildings to load and unload materials; however, there were no lines or marked areas designating an employee walkway or a path for forklifts. Employees had to park their cars in the employee lot across the property, then cross the property to reach the break room where they could punch in and out. This put them in the path of the forklift traffic.
  • The employer failed to ensure that forklift operators were looking behind them when they were backing up.
  • The forklift operator said that he was backing up because he couldn't see over the load. He said that he was driving backwards while looking back, as is appropriate. However, according to two witnesses, they never saw the operator's face, indicating that the operator was not looking in the direction of travel, as he was supposed to. Also, the weather was rainy and the operator was wearing a hoodie, which was over his head, possibly obstructing his peripheral vision. Witnesses said the operator never saw the victim and it was only when they began yelling at him to stop that he finally stopped.

Violations

1910.176(a) [or 437-004-0310(3)(b)]: Permanent aisles or passageways were not appropriately marked.

1910.178(n)(6) [or 437-004-3410(3)(a)(E)]: The forklift operator was not required to look in the direction of, and keep a clear view, of the path of travel.

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