According to Jungheinrich, an international materials handling equipment supplier, many forklift truck accidents could be prevented with better reporting. Currently, most businesses have in place a reporting procedure for forklift truck accidents, but according to Jungheinrich and other industry experts, reporting a wider variety of accidents could help prevent more accidents. Specifically, reporting perceiving hazards as well as “near miss” incidents involving forklift trucks could prevent truck accidents before they occur by targeting potential hazards before they cause personal injuries and accidents.
Currently, many workplaces have extensive procedures in place for reporting workplace accidents, especially when those workplace accidents cause personal injury or fatality. Federal and state laws as well as union standards ensure careful reporting and investigation of all incidents leading to injury. Careful reporting is usually necessary for workers’ compensation claims as well.
However, most companies do not have policies in place for “near accidents” or incidents which almost caused an accident. Most companies do not keep track of these incidents or analyze or investigate with them. Most such incidents, because they do not result in personal injury, are not recorded or kept track of. Quite simply, in most workplaces, everyone considers themselves lucky that no accident has occurred and work continues on as before.
For Jungheinrich and other experts, however, such near misses are important clues of potential hazards. When such clues and analyzed, investigated, reported and acted upon, important corrections can be made to workplace procedures – corrections that could save a life. Some larger firms already have reporting procedures in place for near-miss incidents involving forklift trucks, but many smaller companies with five forklift trucks or fewer generally do not have such policies in place.
Jungheinrich and others note that many forklift truck accidents are caused by badly designed workplaces or by operator error. This means that most of these accidents are highly preventable. In fact, before such an accident occurs, there is usually a chain of events involved – a chain of events that may include near-misses – which can alert the workplace of the possible dangers. By reporting near accidents, workplaces can highlight this chain of events and act before a more serious accident occurs in the workplace.
There are many ways that even small businesses can institute a new policy in the workplace. Encouraging workers to come forward with safety concerns with no fears of retaliation is a good place to start. Workplaces can also have an anonymous system of reporting in place, allowing workers to report problems anonymously. Simply asking workers to report near accidents involving forklift truck accidents and designating a few workers to investigate each incident can be a step in the right direction.