Forklifts are commonly used in factories, in warehouses, and in the trucking industry. They can be very useful, allowing a single person to move tons of material by himself. But they can also be very dangerous, to the user, and also to other workers around him. Forklifts should be used only in proper areas, and only after the operator has been fully trained. The federal OSHA regulations on “powered industrial trucks”, and section 1910(l)(3) govern training content. An employer is required to provide training which contains:
Training shall consist of a combination of formal instruction (e.g., lecture, discussion, interactive computer learning, video tape, written material), practical training (demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee), and evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.Trainees should only be allowed to operate a forklift under the direct supervision of a competent trainer, and in a place where the operation would not endanger the operator or other workers.
The federal regulations also contain detailed rules on how a forklift is to be used, in what areas, and how high material can be loaded. These Federal Regulations were adopted by the Kentucky OSHA Administration as well.
Under Kentucky Workers’ Compensation law, workers’ compensation benefits can be increased by 30% if an intentional safety violation by the employer is proven. Forklifts that are designed improperly, or negligently repaired, may be the subject of a products liability action, so long as the negligent party is not the employer. The employer’s liability is limited to workers’ compensation benefits and to fines assessed by the state Occupational Safety and Health agency.