Safety Tips FACE Reports

FACEValue: Operator dies when forklift falls off loading dock

Case report: #13-MA-036-01*
Issued by: Massachusetts Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: Winter 2013

A 51-year-old male truck driver was killed while operating a stand-up forklift on an elevated loading dock. The victim had been employed with his company for 17 years. On the day of the incident, the forklift fell off the loading dock, causing the victim to fall out of the operator’s area. The forklift then landed partially on top of him. A co-worker called for emergency medical services, and then about 20 people lifted the forklift off the victim. The victim was pronounced dead five days later. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as complications from blunt trauma to the torso and extremities. Since the incident, the employer has prohibited forklifts from the outside loading dock locations – only pallet trucks are allowed to load and unload trucks.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Employers should prohibit forklifts from loading dock locations that do not have protective edge barriers.
  • Employers should consider installing barriers at loading dock edges to minimize the possibility of employees and equipment from falling off the dock.
  • Forklift manufacturers should implement the concept of Prevention through Design, and redesign the operator area of standup counterbalanced forklifts to include restraint systems.

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