Industrial vehicle and forklift accident statistics

Forklift trucks are a hazard when working alongside pedestrians. Accident statistics are available through the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) in the UK, and OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US. They reveal alarming forklift injury data patterns.

These six accident statistics highlight the dangers of forklift trucks working alongside people:

  • 1 in 5 workplace fatalities are caused by a forklift truck or industrial vehicle1.
  • 27 people are killed in forklift truck accidents at work every year.
  • 1 in 10 workplace fatalities are in the transportation and storage sector.
  • You are 3 times more likely to be killed at work in the transportation and storage sector, where forklifts and industrial vehicles are more numerous2
  • 1,500 injuries are caused by forklifts and other industrial vehicles every year.3
  • 3 in 10 of these injuries are in the transportation and storage sector.4

You can find comprehensive workplace accident data records on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Why are accidents involving forklift trucks so serious?

These accident statistics point to many reasons why forklift accidents can have the most serious consequences in industrial facilities. Particularly for facilities in the transportation and storage sector, where forklift numbers are greater and movement near pedestrians more frequent.

The mechanical workings and specifications unique to forklift trucks are another indicator of why forklift accidents have such severe consequences.

  • They are deceptively small, but with their essential dense counterweight they weigh considerably more than much larger vehicles such as cars, vans and some lorries.
  • In busy facilities with high volume targets, forklift speeds may be de-restricted allowing them to travel up to 18 mph. Even at restricted speeds, their weight and density can generate considerable impact force in an accident.
  • Unlike a road vehicle, forklifts have no crumple zone. Their forks and back end are solid steel, so accidents can cause severe crush injuries and huge amounts of damage.
  • Forklifts are counterbalanced with heavy weights in the rear to compensate for loads being raised high on the forks. Drivers may need time to adjust to handling this unfamiliar weight distribution.
  • Forklift trucks are rear wheel turning, so their turning circle can be a risk as the rear of the vehicle swings outwards. This can result in impact at tight corners, such as the end of racking aisles.
  • With their raised sitting position in the cabin, the line of sight for forklift drivers is different to other vehicle types. Their view can also be partly obscured when carrying loads on the front forks.
Forklift Accident Statistics Speeding Forklift Min

How can organisations reduce the risk of people being injured by a forklift?

  • Training

1. Improve driving standards

Properly trained drivers with certification is a legal requirement for those operating fork lift trucks. Other measures which can improve forklift driving standards are:

Frequent re-training and refresher courses for drivers.

Keeping operator training and development top-of-mind can make a huge difference to facility safety standards.

Warehouse racking monitoring.

Giving forklift drivers visibility of how their vehicle is impacting on rack infrastructure helps them improve their driving standards. Electronic and IoT devices can reveal a picture of where forklift accidents might occur and where more driver training is needed. The A-SAFE RackEye safety system is at the forefront of this technology.

Forklift Accident Statistics Rack Monitoring Min
  • Inspection

2. Conduct daily inspections

The forklift trucks in your fleet need to be inspected daily. Checks on the following areas will identify potential accident risks.

  • Is the volume and function of the horn as it should be?
  • Check for any leaking fluids under and around the forklift. This could create a slip hazard or indicate a problem with the vehicle.
  • Just as with a car, forklift truck tyres have a recommended PSI. It is important that they remain inflated to the right level to prevent problems with steering and stopping, or further damaging the vehicle.
  • All brakes on the forklift should be functioning effectively, inspect them thoroughly before use.
  • The forklift steering should also be checked for responsivity and proper operation.

The Forklift Truck Association provide further advice and fact sheets on owning and operating forklift trucks.

  • Risk Assessment

3. Conduct a thorough risk assessment in accordance with PAS 13

PAS 13 is the official Code of Practice for safety barriers in the industrial workplace. It was published by the British Standards Institute (BSI) in 2017 and has become hugely influential for health and safety managers worldwide.

It contains traffic management advice to ensure facility layouts minimise forklift and pedestrian interactions. This massively reduces the risk of forklift accidents. It also gives guidance on how to know if safety barrier suppliers are providing are properly tested, fit for purpose equipment.

Misinformation is a problem where safety products are concerned. Ask your barrier supplier if their products are tested to PAS 13, and if they can show independent verification from a reputable certifier, such as TUV Nord.

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  • Protection

4. Physical protection with safety barriers

Every facility can avoid forklift accidents by using safety barriers that are properly tested and certified. From a trusted barrier supplier, the right barriers, in the right place, are the best way to minimise operating risk. This provides protection for people and assets from forklift vehicle movements.

Find out more about Pedestrian Protection on the A-SAFE website:

Pedestrian Protection
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[1] Over the five years to March 2021. RIDDOR

[2] 5 years RIDDOR combined with other data, using the GB level employment by Broad Industry Group data from the ONS

[3] Average over 5 years to March 2021

[4] Ibid.

GET THE FREE SAFETY RESOURCE PACK

For more tips and detailed advice, download our free resource pack. This pack, put together by leading industrial safety experts contains:

  • The definitive guide to investing in industrial safety, helping you to get sign-off on safety investment quickly. Featuring tips for reducing operating risk, spotting opportunities for upgrades, knowing if safety products are fit-for-purpose, and justifying the return on investment of facility-wide safety improvements.
  • The safety inspection checklist, to help you identify potential hazards and ensure preventative safety measures are in place.
  • The injury factsheet, with industrial vehicle injury data from official sources and exclusive insight from the 2021 YouGov industrial safety survey, these snapshot factsheets give you accurate knowledge in formats suitable for print and sharing digitally
  • Poster series 1 focusing on the real people behind the hidden costs campaign – an ordinary family whose lives were forever changed because of one avoidable accident.
  • Poster series 2 using powerful imagery from the Amputee film, coupled with frightening statistics to demonstrate the regularity of workplace accident occurrences.
  • The infographic containing all the key findings from our recent YouGov survey of more than 2,000 manual and semi-skilled workers presented in a user-friendly format to print and share digitally.

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