Each year approximately 11% of all forklifts in use will be involved in an accident. So those having 10 or more of these machines at work on their site, should be extra vigilant. And maybe even more so, since forklift accidents might have a higher occurrence in sectors with statistically higher accident rates. 

Obviously, not every occupation carries the same safety risks. It’s no surprise that surveys show blue-collar workers justly giving themselves a higher probability of getting injured on the job than the average white-collar employee. 

Those surveys also reveal 6 in 10 blue-collar families had someone in their household with a work related injury that was serious enough to require medical attention. 

It’s worth knowing however that there are significant differences in the accident rate from one (blue-collar) industry sector to another.

As expected?

Obviously, there are accidents and accidents. Just as there are injuries and injuries. For the sake of this article and brutal clarity, we’ll focus mainly on fatalities. Since the rate of these most tragic outcomes is generally in line with that of serious injuries.  

For 2021 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the fatal work injury rate (per 100.000 workers) for the private industry sectors as follows:

  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting: 19,5
  • Transportation and warehousing: 14,5
  • Construction: 9,4
  • Wholesale trade: 5,1
  • Manufacturing: 2,6

For some readers, these numbers come mostly as expected. Others might be somewhat startled by the fact that transportation and warehousing tallies at a higher rate than construction. And maybe even more so by the larger-than-anticipated difference. The number 4 spot for wholesale trade also tends to animate some eyebrows. 

So the blue-collar worker going about his job on a logistics site has nearly three times as high a risk of an accident as a worker in the wholesale trade … who, for his part runs double the risk compared to a worker in manufacturing. 

Talking forklift accidents

The statistics on accidents involving forklifts per industry paint a partially different picture. Largely because most of the forklift operations in the agricultural, fishing and hunting trade are done in the transportation and warehousing part of the process. 

So, once again we’re counting fatalities, but this time those directly related to forklift accidents. The relevant industry sectors present these percentages: 

  • Manufacturing: 42,5%
  • Construction: 23,8%
  • Transportation and warehousing: 23,5%

Unlike the statistics comparing the rate of fatal accidents per industry, those involving forklifts show a more straightforward correlation with the number of forklifts operated by these industries. 

Crudely stated: a blue-collar worker might run an overall lower risk of an accident when working in manufacturing. But compared to other industries with forklifts driving around their facilities, his risk is considerably higher. 

Also of note: transportation and warehousing (including wholesale trade) share an unenviable second place with construction. 

Ending on a sobering reminder

We’ve presented some of these numbers in previous blogposts, but they are no less relevant today than they were then. 

Forklift accidents lead to 34.900 serious injuries annually in the US alone.

That’s not counting the 61.800 non-serious injuries.

1 in 6 workplace deaths involve a forklift. On foot workers being the most vulnerable, making up 80% of those injured in the US and 57% in the UK. 

The most prevalent accidents can be listed as: 

  • Transportation incidents: 52%
  • Struck by object: 15%
  • Falls slips and trips: 15%
  • Struck against object: 8%
  • Caught in object, equipment, material: 5%

Resulting in : 

  • Fractures 29%
  • Bruises contusions: 17%
  • Soreness, pain 17%
  • Sprains Strains tears: 15%
  • Multiple traumatic injuries: 3%
  • Amputations: 2%

So be careful, stay vigilant and put in that extra effort in working towards zero accidents.

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