A 21-year-old employee, part of a team loading equipment into railroad cars, was crushed to death when a forklift pinned him against a flatbed car.
The incident at Vestas Towers in Pueblo, CO, killed John Keel, who was employed by a contracting company. Vestas manufactures wind turbine towers.
A coroner’s report says Keel died at a local hospital from “crushing injuries.”
A police spokesman says the forklift was so large that it’s possible the driver couldn’t see down to the level of the train car and didn’t notice Keel who was standing on the tracks.
Police also say it wasn’t usual procedure for Keel to be walking along the tracks.
The exact cause of this fatality is still under investigation.
To reduce the hazards of mixing forklifts with workers on foot:
- Separate forklift traffic and other workers where possible
- Limit some areas to workers on foot or forklifts only
- Restrict the use of forklifts when the flow of workers on foot is at its peak, such as at the end of a shift or during breaks
- Install physical barriers where practical to ensure that workers are isolated from the travel paths of forklifts
- Evaluate intersections and other blind corners to determine whether overhead dome mirrors could improve the visibility of forklifts
- Make every effort to alert workers when a forklift is nearby: use horns, backup alarms to warn workers and other forklift operators in the area, and
- Use flashing lights as a warning in areas where the ambient noise level is high.
For more information on preventing injuries and deaths involving forklifts, click here.