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Forklift Accident Statistics

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that a forklift is a dangerous piece of machinery. There are some pretty grim accident statistics to back up that notion. In reality, forklifts account for only 1% of all warehouse or factory accidents. But the accidents tend to be more serious than others, accounting for 11% of all physical injuries in those workplaces. 

Front view of forklift

Here are eight accident statistics that should cause you to exercise extreme caution when operating a forklift: 

  1. Around 75 to 100 workers are killed annually in forklift accidents, with a rough average of 87 deaths per year — this number has continually increased almost 30% within the last decade. 
  2. OSHA's most recent estimates indicate that between 35,000 and 62,000 injuries occur every year involving forklifts.
  3. Forklift accidents that result in serious injury total 34,900 annually. 
  4. Non-serious injuries related to forklift accidents reach 61,800 each year. 
  5. A forklift overturning is the most common incident, accounting for 25% of all forklift accidents. 
  6. If companies implemented more stringent training policies, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that about 70% of forklift accidents in the US could be prevented.
  7. On average 95 people are seriously injured in a forklift accident every day and 1 person is killed in a forklift accident every 4 days in the United States alone.
  8. 36% of forklift-related deaths are pedestrians
  9. Approximately 11% of forklifts in the United States will be involved in an accident each year. Meaning if your facility has 10 or more – something is going to happen this year.


Why Are Forklifts So Dangerous? 

Forklift hitting barrierThere are a number of reasons why forklifts can be such a workplace hazard. 

  • They can weigh up to 9,000 pounds, which is three times heavier than many cars
  • They can travel up to 18 mph
  • Unlike a car, forklifts only have brakes in the front, making them harder to stop 
  • Forklifts are heavier in the rear to compensate for the heavy loads being carried in the front. This uneven weight distribution can make a forklift difficult to handle. 
  • A forklift is turned by the rear wheels, causing the rear end to swing outward. This increases the chance of tipping over during tight turns. 
  • Loads are carried in the front of a forklift, which can obstruct the view of the driver 
  • Forklifts are often used to raise hefty loads to considerable heights, a combination that is always dangerous  

Mitigate Your Risk by Focusing on These Three Areas: 

 #1 Training

Blog-Forklift-Accidents-2A significant number of accidents are attributed to undertrained forklift operators.  It’s vital – and required – that forklift operators are trained according to employer and OSHA standards.  Within that training there needs to be two main categories: 

Truck Safety: There needs to be a special focus given to truck-specific topics such as controls, instrumentation, steering, visibility, capacity, and stability limitations.   

Workplace Environment: The unique locations within which the trucks will operate also need focused attention.  Pay attention to surface conditions, load manipulation, Pedestrian traffic, aisle widths, indoor/outdoor transitions, and more… 

#2 Inspections 

Person looking up inspecting forkliftDaily inspections of the trucks should be mandatory.  Some of the suggested areas of focus include: 

  • Is the horn functioning?
  • Are there any leaks? Could cause slip and falls and/or hydraulic failure
  • Are tires inflated to proper PSI? 
  • Are the brakes (parking brake included) working properly? 
  • Is the steering system responsive and conducive to ease of control? 

#3 Protection 

Person driving forklift with boxes hitting a barrierWhile training and inspections will hopefully prevent many forklift accidents, every facility needs to protect its people and its assets through strategic placement of impact barriers, purpose-built for the location’s risk factors. 

This starts with a McCue Walkthrough and SafeScore.  Our experts will tour your facility, take measurements, evaluate equipment, and observe pedestrian and machine traffic in order to rate your current safety barriers and recommend any necessary improvements. 

We also specialize in new facility safety strategies – implementing from the ground up helps to ensure you have the safest possible environment. 

Glancing blows only require strong, cost-efficient products — like our Pedestrian Barrier. Full speed 90-degree impacts require best-in-class strength and safety deployment you can rely on our FlexCore Guardrail +ULTRA.


Our full suite of safety solutions focuses on stopping power, energy absorption, and impact deflection and can be viewed here. 

The next step to ensure the safety of your facility is to Book your Walkthrough and receive your SafeScore.



The MHEDA Journal: http://www.themhedajournal.org/2013/03/06/facts-about-forklifts/ 

Occupational Health and Safety Administration: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&p_id=13456 

Industrial Truck Association: http://www.indtrk.org/training 

Daily Journal of Commerce: http://www.djc.com/news/co/11176945.html 

U.S. Forklift Certification: http://www.usforkliftcertification.com/Forklift_Certification/how-fast-do-forklifts-go/ 

Occupational Health and Safety Administration: https://www.osha.gov/dte/library/pit/pit_q-a.html