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OSHA's report on fatal incident

Texas warehouse workers should be aware of the publication released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding an incident in which a worker who was on a pallet that was elevated by a forklift fell and died from the injuries he incurred. The worker had slipped while he was on the pallet rearranging inventory and fell down 7 feet.

The inventory the warehouse stores was placed on steel racks that had shelves that reached 8 feet high from the concrete floor. The warehouse workers frequently placed one or both feet on a pallet to relocate inventory to the highest shelf as a coworker used the forklift to elevate them to the top shelf. This was despite the fact this was not the intended use of the forklift.

The controls that could have prevented workers from using the equipment in an improper manner and that could have prevented the situation in which a worker could fall were not in place. The employer failed to give workers the equipment that was necessary to safely access inventory that were stored on elevated shelves. The employer was also lax in adhering to the manufacturer's instructions and disallowing the use of pallets on forklifts to get to the upper shelves. An additional reason that the fatal incident occurred was that the forklift operators were not trained or certified on the proper and safe way to operate the machinery, which would have included instruction to not use the equipment to raise workers.

Individuals who sustain a workplace injury due to the negligence of the employer may have legal recourse. If the actions of the employer were particularly reckless and egregious, an attorney might suggest foregoing workers' compensation benefits and instead filing a lawsuit.

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