Raised Fork Lifts a Common Cause of Fall Accidents in Greensboro

A Concord company has been fined by the North Carolina Department of Labor after an employee died from a fall in March, reports the Salisbury Post.

Our Greensboro workers’ compensation lawyers have posted frequently on our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog about the dangers of fall hazards encountered by workers.
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A 47-year-old warehouse supervisor fell to his death from a storage rack at Sysco Guest Supply Inc. which supplies lodging and hospitality products. Immediately after the accident, an investigation was opened by the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division to determine the cause.

The report indicated that the supervisor was 19 feet in the air trying to stabilize a pallet full of paper napkins when he fell. Four alleged serious violations citations were issued to the company by the labor department with penalties totaling $12,550.

“The penalties are in no way designed to make up for loss of life. By law, the civil money penalties collected by the N.C. Department of Labor are not the receipts of the department, but rather must be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, which then distributes the monies to the public school systems,” said Dolores Quesenberry, director of communications with the state Department of Labor.

The violations included the following; each fine could have been as high as $7,000:

  • Improperly riding a forklift, $3,500.
  • Workers were observed either standing on an empty pallet or standing on the forks of the forklift and being lifted to access a racking system or retrieve products. According to forklift manufacturer’s recommendations, the only proper way to lift anyone with a forklift is to use an approved platform.

  • Working without fall protection, $4,500.
  • Workers were not given personal fall protection equipment. Enforcement of warehouse procedures that prohibits workers from climbing on equipment or in the storage racks were not followed.

  • Forklifts were left unattended with the forks elevated, $1,050.
  • Forklifts were observed lifting workers to the tops of the storage racks (19 feet) and then the operators left the lift with the keys in the ignition and the forks elevated.

  • Failing to re-evaluate forklift operators every three years, $3,500.
  • A forklift operator who was also a forklift instructor had missed their last evaluation.

“Fines are issued to penalize the offending employer, but also to get the attention of other employers with similar work environments,” Quesenberry said.

After receiving the findings from the Department of Labor, Sysco requested an informal conference to discuss the citations. The company during the conference can present any problems, questions or concerns, verification and evidence that it has fixed the violations.

The conference can produce three possible outcomes: the Department of Labor can amend the citations, they can issue a “no change” letter, keeping the citation as is or they can draft an informal settlement agreement if deemed beneficial to worker’s safety.

This would speed up the process or resolve the case. The settlement agreement could include modification of citations, penalty reduction and mandate the establishment of safety guidelines.

If you are dealing with a work accident in North Carolina or a workers’ compensation or disability claim, contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A. today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-8 1965.

More Blog Entries:
Government Shows Employers How to Prevent North Carolina Fall Accidents, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 7, 2011

North Carolina Youth Carnival Ends in Tragedy – Teen Work Accidents a Summer Danger, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 16, 2011

Construction Season Increases Risk of North Carolina Work Accidents, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, April 21, 2011

Additional Resources:

Company fined over man’s death, by Shavonne Potts, Salisbury Post

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