Workers' compensation: Fall from elevated pallet can be deadly

Employees in warehouses and distribution centers in California typically face hazards related to forklifts and other materials handling equipment. One of the most prevalent causes cited for injuries on workers' compensation benefits claims involves employers allowing employees who are not qualified to operate these dangerous vehicles. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety regulations in place to prevent forklift accidents, and it is the responsibility of business owners to enforce compliance.

To demonstrate the dangers of allowing workers to stand on pallets that are raised by forklifts, OSHA used the tragic case of a victim who was elevated to a height of seven feet while he was standing on a pallet resting on the fork of a hoist. He was part of a crew moving inventory on a steel storage rack, but using an unsafe method to do so. The worker slipped and fell to the ground, suffering injuries to which he succumbed after being rushed to the hospital.

OSHA urges employers not to allow workers to be on raised pallets on forklifts. Safety authorities say there are specific tools and equipment for the purpose of elevating employees. These include personnel platforms and high-lifts for order pickers, but only qualified workers must be allowed to operate them. Those who are tasked with jobs at heights must be provided with fall protection and training for the proper use of personal fall protection equipment.

California employees who suffer workplace injuries are entitled to pursue financial assistance to cover medical expenses and lost wages through the workers' compensation insurance program for the state. Similarly, families who have lost loved ones in such accidents may seek death benefits from the insurance system. These may cover the costs of funerals and burials and a portion of lost income. The support and guidance of experienced workers' compensation attorneys is available to help navigate benefits claims.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "Latest 'Fatal Facts' examines fall from forklift-elevated pallet," Oct. 6, 2017

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