Joe was driving his forklift down a clearly lined path between two sets of tall racks. He was following workplace guidelines for forklift operations. Another employee suddenly stepped into Joe’s path from behind a rack. Because Joe didn’t see them in time, he hit his co-worker, resulting in a severe injury.
After the accident Joe suffered from emotional stress and guilt. He refused to drive a forklift again and eventually quit his job.
Hidden Emotional Effects of a Forklift Accident
The Forklift Driver
Forklift accidents most often occur when the forklift is in motion. That means there is a driver involved. Even if they are following the rules and have up-to-date certification, the driver could suffer from guilt, PTSD, or other emotional stress after the fact. That driver may develop a fear of forklifts, an accident recurrence, or may even decide never to drive or work around forklifts again.
And sometimes the driver is not at direct fault, but may be a direct victim themselves due to unmaintained equipment, lack of training, or pressure to perform risky behavior.
Forklift accidents often have witnesses. Depending on the severity of the accident and what they see, these witnesses may themselves suffer emotional trauma.
The injured employee may even be a good friend or relied upon worker, which compounds the emotional effects of what happened.
Depending on how the accident happened, or who or what was at fault, employee morale takes a hit. Anxiety, PTSD, or other stress is a very real outcome for witnesses.
What Can Employers Do?
There are many ways an employer can help guide their workers through the aftermath of a forklift accident.
- Continuous driver training
- Well maintained equipment
- Immediate response: compassion, empathy, time off to recover, supportive of mental health needs
- On-going support: check ins
- Worker’s comp for mental injury
But what about preventing accidents in the first place? Employers can invest in a proximity alert system. With a proximity alert system, like HIT-NOT, Joe would have been warned of a pedestrian near his forklift, even though he couldn’t see them. At the same time, the walking employee would have been alerted they were approaching a moving forklift.
The video shows an example of how HIT-NOT works.
Accidents hurt more people than you may think. Protect the safety of your employees both physically AND MENTALLY with a safety system.