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Safety violation: Use of wrong equipment kills 1, injures another

Employers in Ohio must always ensure that operators of equipment are adequately qualified to work on each particular machine. Furthermore, suitable machinery must be used according to manufacturer's manuals. After a tragic death in a neighboring state, investigators determined that a safety violation in the use of improper equipment for the job caused the fatality.

Reportedly, the accident happened at a site at an airport at which the construction of a hangar neared completion. One of the final tasks that had to be completed was the installation of siding on the aircraft hangar. Instead of the available scissor lift that is designed to lift workers, it was decided to use a telescopic forklift truck to elevate two workers 40 feet up in the air. They were apparently standing on a platform measuring 4 feet by 16 feet, which was secured to the fork of the machine.

When the workers gestured to the forklift operator to lower them to ground level, he tilted the platform to avoid hitting the building but failed to control the lever that controls the level of the tilt. Without any stabilizers to prevent the forklift from tipping over, the unbalanced machine fell onto its side, dropping the workers 40 feet to the ground, where they landed on concrete. One worker died, and the other suffered severe injuries that were treated at a major trauma center.

Investigators said the choice of equipment was a safety violation, as the manual clearly states that the telescopic forklift is not suitable for the lifting of people and should never be used for that purpose. Ohio victims of workplace injuries -- or the families of those who are killed on the job -- may pursue financial relief through the workers' compensation insurance system. Medical costs and/or end-of-life expenses will be covered, and a certain level of wage replacement is typically included in injury and death benefits that are awarded.

Source: ehstoday.com, "Fatality Investigation: Oversized Scaffolding Platform Destabilizes and Telescopic Forklift Overturns", De Anna McIntosh, July 14, 2016

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