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Florida Forklift Accident Prompts OSHA Investigation

Any workplace with heavy machinery or equipment can pose a danger to employees. It’s imperative that all employees coming into contact with such machinery know how they function and what the safety risks are.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation after the death of an employee in Polk County recently. The man, who was 60, was killed during a forklift accident while setting up light towers at his part-time job. It’s the kind of incident that could raise questions of premises liability.

The tragic accident occurred at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, which is northeast of U.S. Highway 27 and 4. The company is the world’s largest auctioneer of industrial equipment, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

OSHA will determine whether the facility owners and operators maintained a sufficiently safe work environment. Safety depends upon the number and type of hazards, training the employees receive and the state of the property.

The company issued a statement regarding the fatality, noting that it was cooperating with investigators who were looking into the tragedy. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers also conducted its own investigation. OSHA apparently had no history of investigating the company.

Forklifts and similar machines can be among the most dangerous in the workplace, most often causing injuries at manufacturing facilities, construction sites and trade facilities. Many injuries result from the forklift tipping over, but operators are often crushed between the vehicle and the ground or struck by a forklift as well. Extreme caution should be used while operating forklifts.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “OSHA probe launched: Clermont man killed in accident involving forklift,” Kevin Connolly, Jan. 23, 2012

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