Safety and OSHA News

Worker struck and killed by forklift

OSHA is investigating a fatality in which a worker at a marine terminal was struck by a forklift carrying a large load.

Paula Bellamy was working as a “slinger,” someone who guides a crane operator, for Ceres Marine Terminals in Portsmouth, VA.

Bellamy was standing on a pier and using a radio to guide a crane operator when a forklift driver nearby picked up steel bins.

Police say the forklift driver’s vision was obstructed by the bins carried on the front of the vehicle. As he moved the forklift forward, he struck Bellamy.

She was rushed to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

OSHA requires forklift drivers to travel in reverse if the load obstructs forward view.

This incident serves as a good reminder to workers why the OSHA rule exists.

For more on OSHA’s powered industrial truck standards, click here.

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  1. How tragic… These kinds of accidents just shouldn’t happen. I wonder if the driver was properly trained? He should have stopped the moment his line of sight became obstructed. This is why it is essential all forklift operators go through multiple experts courses so things like this never happen.

  2. PO'd Safety Guy says:

    Now this is one tragedy that should not have happened. OSHA put in the travel in reverse rule for a good reason and, behold, it parallels common sense. If the operator can’t see where they are going forward, drive in reverse. I, too, wonder about the training because this is really a fundamental forklift operating rule.

  3. Totally agree! This should have never happened. period. As I mentioned before, forklift operators need to properly trained by seasoned vets in order to avoid these kinds of mishaps.

  4. Heidi Brightly says:

    It is common for forklift work to be pressure to perform. Often times the safety training takes place, however, speed then kicks in and operators fall to production pressure. The company can validate the training and the forklift driver is caught in the middle. Second to the loss of life, is the pressure on the operator. Most workers (of all kinds) do not feel they can say NO to production pressure. Each operator must develop their own system of safety based on the training and hold a hard line. This can minimize accidents but is no guarantee to be accident free.

  5. All the training in the world will not eliminate these types of accidents. When the operator leaves the training they are expected to perform. Supervision is required to take over when the driver doesn’t have enough sence to. There are many places to blame, however it will not change the fact that a life was lost. People watching people and giving safe and at risk feedback is the key to changing behavior.

  6. This is a pretty scary thing, you hear about warehouse accidents far too often. From the U.S. Bureau of Statistics each year 100 die, and 20,000 are injured because of forklift related accidents. The highest fatality being forklift overturns with accounts for 22% of the deaths each year. I read a lot of forklifts safety statistics here. I have also heard a lot about automating forklifts as well hopefully these kind of developments will help save lives.

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