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The importance of lifting workers safely in warehouses

Connecticut warehouse workers who use forklifts and pallets not intended to carry people to be lifted to high shelves may be endangering themselves. One worker died after he slipped and fell 7 feet to a concrete floor from a pallet on a forklift. Although using the forklift and pallet in this way was common in his workplace, it was against the manufacturer's instructions for the forklift, and there was no fall protection in place.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the incident. It found several causes for the accident including the employer's failure to prohibit using the forklift in this way. A lack of training on forklift safety was also a factor. Finally, the employer failed to supply employees with the equipment they needed to reach these shelves.

OSHA also had several recommendations for preventing future accidents. The agency said that workers should not be allowed to ride on pallets in that way. Instead, they need to be provided with safe ways of being lifted. With written approval from the manufacturer, a personnel platform with fall protection, such as a guardrail, can be used to lift employees on a forklift. Another possibility is a high-lift order picker which comes with a fall arrest system and can lift a person alongside a forklift.

Falls are among the most common causes of on-the-job injuries, and a worker who is injured in one is generally eligible for workers' compensation. Workers who are in doubt about their eligibility, who have been told by their employers that they are not eligible or who are unsure of their rights around a workplace injury might want to speak to an attorney. The attorney may be able to clarify eligibility as well as provide help with filing the required claim documentation.

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