Abstract

Many wood-based businesses rely on forklifts and pallet jacks to load, unload, or move product around facilities. The use of forklifts or other powered industrial trucks (PITs) to facilitate movement and storage of goods is expected to grow steadily over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, forklifts are known to be a common source of occupational injuries and fatalities. The purpose of this article is to examine severe injuries related to the use of forklifts and pallet movers in various segments of the wood-related industries. We used data from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) database to investigate all severe injuries related to forklifts or pallet jacks in the 5 years from 2015 to 2019. Our focus was on various wood products and paper manufacturers, as well as wood building material dealers and wholesalers; this provides a broad overview of the hazards associated with forklifts and pallet trucks across the spectrum of wood-related businesses. Results show there were 17 fatalities and 211 severe injuries during the 5-year period. Building material dealers saw the highest number of injuries, followed by a wood manufacturing segment. Fractures were the most prevalent type of injury, with the lower extremities being the most vulnerable to serious injury. The most prevalent injury event type was pedestrians hit by a forklift or other PIT. Improper use of PITs is a regular source of OSHA fines for wood-based businesses. Implications are drawn for businesses that use forklifts and pallet jacks to reduce the likelihood of injuries from this type of equipment.

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