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Safety procedures for lifting workers

All Oklahoma workers need to be given the right equipment and training to do their jobs safely. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated an incident in which a 33-year-old man died after falling 7 feet off a pallet that had been raised by a forklift.

In the warehouse where the man worked, it was common practice to raise workers up to high shelves by having them stand on a pallet and lifting the pallet with the forklift. The worker would then stand with both feet on the pallet or one foot on the pallet and one foot on the shelf. However, this was against the manufacturer's instructions. The OSHA report on the incident said that the employer was responsible for making sure workers did not misuse the forklift in this way.

The workers also needed equipment that would safely lift them. For example, a personnel platform with a guardrail or other safety feature to protect a worker from falling can be used with a forklift with approval from the manufacturer. Another option is a high-lift order picker, a type of truck that can raise a worker alongside a forklift. It also has fall arrest equipment. OSHA also said that employees needed to be trained in forklift safety. Workers who are concerned about safety in their workplace can make a confidential report to OSHA.

A fall such as this may not be fatal but it can still leave a worker seriously injured. The worker might suffer broken bones or a brain injury. When workplace injuries occur, an employee is usually eligible for workers' compensation. This can be important for employees and their families because it covers medical expenses and a percentage of lost income and gives employees the needed time for recovery. Having the assistance of an attorney might be advisable.

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