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April 25, 2017
California building supply company cited following fatal forklift accident

Cal/OSHA fined a roofing and building supply company $62,320 for multiple serious accident-related safety violations following an investigation of a fatal forklift accident in San Francisco.

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On November 21, 2016, a 60-year-old forklift operator was transferring building supplies from the company’s warehouse to a customer’s vehicle. When the forklift descended a sloped ramp, a bag of mortar mix fell off of the load and blocked the front right wheel. The operator reversed the forklift to free the bag of mortar and while doing so, turned the steering wheel so that the back wheel went over the edge of the ramp, tipping the five-ton forklift over. The worker attempted to jump out of the cab and was fatally crushed by the forklift.

“This incident could have been prevented had the employer effectively evaluated the workplace for hazards, which would have identified the unguarded edge of the ramp that exposed the forklift to tipping,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “The worker should have been properly trained to stay seated with the seatbelt fastened in the event of a tip over.”

The six violations cited in Cal/OSHA’s investigation included three classified as serious accident-related, one serious, one regulatory and one general. The serious accident-related violations were cited for the company’s failure to ensure:

  • The proper use of a forklift seatbelt,
  • That the forklift operator was certified to operate the vehicle safely, and
  • That industrial ramps had at least an 8-inch curb or equivalent installed along the open edges to prevent the wheels of industrial trucks from running off the ramp.

The serious violation was cited for the employer’s failure to inspect and identify hazards in the workplace, provide written safety instruction on industrial trucks in a language readily understandable by all of the workers, and for failure to ensure that all affected workers comply with the forklift safety requirements at the worksite. A serious violation is cited when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious harm could result from the actual hazardous condition.

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