Inappropriate Material Handling Procedures Lead to Significant Injuries


Forklift Expert WitnessThis case involves an incident that occurred at a manufacturer of aircraft components in Louisiana. The manufacturer in question regularly receives large shipments of aluminum billets, shipped in racks that stacked on top of each other. The manufacturer uses a fork lift with a hole in one fork tine to drag the racks around the plant. On the date of the incident in question, the plaintiff was working at a molding station with his back to the rest of the factory floor. The plaintiff turned away from the lift at the same time that a forklift carrying aluminum billets was driving past, which immediately applied its breaks. Nevertheless, the pallet of aluminum tipped over onto the plaintiff, causing significant, life-changing injuries.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you understand how material is transported and handled in plants such as this?

Expert Witness Response E-080573

I have been involved in forklift training, operator certification, training trainers in many different facilities around the US. In a case like this, I would start with the forklift training that this operator has already received, and determine if the company had discussed the hazards associated with this type of load. Additional questions would include if they had specific procedures for loading and moving the material, If the operator was properly trained, and if the company failed to identify the possible hazards that could arise from this method of material transportation. I have many years of experience writing and reviewing safety procedures for hazardous situations on the forklift. If the proper procedure was documented and taught to the operator, then the fault could be elsewhere. However, I don’t know if the victim ignored instructions by the lift operator or was outside the customer safety zone (if one existed).

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