Statement of purpose The recent growth of online retailing has been reflected in similar growth in the transportation and warehousing industry. There is concern that online retailers are jeopardizing worker safety in order to speed up product delivery. The safety of workers around forklifts—ubiquitous in transportation and warehousing—is of particular concern. Most research on forklift related injuries used data prior to 2000. Examining more current data is warranted.
Methods/Approach We examined trends in forklift related fatalities occurring in the U.S. from 2001- 2017 using data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. To identify the patterns of these types of fatalities by industry and specific cause, we are examining fatality reports from OSHA’s Integrated Management Information System.
Results In total, 1788 forklift related fatalities occurred from 2001–2017. Fatalities increased from 123 in 2001, to a peak of 150 in 2005, before gradually declining to a low of 74 in 2017. The industries accounting for the largest proportion of forklift related fatalities were manufacturing (22.5%), construction (16.3%), transportation and warehousing (13.2%), and wholesale trade (12.1%).
Conclusions Forklift related fatalities have decreased overall since 2005. However, dozens of unnecessary deaths still occur every year due to forklifts. Prevention efforts should be targeted at the four industries accounting for 64.1% of all forklift related fatalities.
Significance While the number of fatalities from forklifts has decreased in recent years, these fatalities still happen all too frequently considering that most could be prevented. Understanding more about how these incidents happen will allow us to develop new interventions, which are especially needed in the four industries that account for almost two thirds of all forklift related fatalities. Our findings will create a blueprint for progress towards safer workplace practices in these industries.
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