Benefits available following a fatal New York City forklift accident

Working around heavy equipment and heavy objects makes construction work dangerous. Even when safety measures are in place, accidents can happen. Falling objects at a busy construction worksite can even prove fatal.

Recently, a man working on rebuilding sections of the sea wall on Governors Island died in a forklift accident. A forklift operator lifted a 15-foot section of pipe from a delivery truck. But as it was being unloaded the storm sewer pipe fell crushing the worker. It is unclear exactly what caused the accident.

Forklifts (also called lift trucks or powered industrial trucks) are one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment at construction work sites, warehouses and retail stores. The routine use of forklifts increases the chance of accidents.

Each year, approximately 100 workers lose their lives in forklift accidents, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Almost 35,000 workers suffer serious injuries in these types of accident each year. Because of the risks, OSHA requires specific training for forklift operators and daily inspection checklists.

How forklift accidents happen

Failure to see other workers on a job site is a common type of accident. When going in reverse, a driver may not see others behind him or her. Tipping over is another common cause of injury. This can happen when a driver gets too close to a drop off at a loading dock. A fall from a pallet or other platform supported by a forklift is another danger.

Each of the above types of accidents can result in a worker being crushed. It could be underneath the forklift or between a forklift and a wall or another vehicle. To avoid injuries, forklift operators need to follow these tips:

  • Use your horn when backing, at intersections and anywhere with limited vision;
  • Do not lift anyone without special equipment;
  • Do not allow anyone to stand or walk near raised forks; and
  • Do not operate a forklift when distracted, sleepy or sick.

Last year, OSHA issued about 2,900 citations and penalties close to $2 million for forklift violations. The number of citations relates to lack of proper training at many workplaces.

Remedies available and the need for an experienced attorney

When the unthinkable happens and a loved one dies in a construction accident, benefits are often available through a workers' compensation death claim. These include benefits to cover funeral expenses and recurring payments to a surviving spouse or children.

Formulas for calculating death benefits can be complicated. Consulting a skilled workers' compensation attorney after the death of a loved one or a serious workplace injury will ensure you receive all compensation to which you are entitled.