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On December 1st 1999 OSHA revised its forklift operator training regulations (29CFR 1910.178, paragraph L). The main purpose of this revision was to reduce high numbers fatalities and injuries which occur each year related to forklift operation. OSHA estimates show the standard should prevent 11 deaths and over 9,422 injuries each year! A side benefit for employers is that OSHA estimates a savings of $135 million per year in the form of reduced material cost, value of lost output, indirect cost of injuries, administrative cost of claims, damage to facility, equipment and product. The bottom line is that high quality operator and trainer training makes financial sense in today's marketplace. Studies have shown that money spent on improving safety can return an investment of over four dollars for every dollar spent!

OSHA Forklift Statistics

OSHA estimates there are about 85 forklift fatalities per year, 34,900 serious injuries and 61,800 non-serious injuries. According to the Industrial Truck Association, there are about 855,900 forklifts in the U.S., so over 11 percent will be involved in some type of accident each year (assuming only one accident per forklift).

The ITA also reports that the useful life of a lift truck is eight years, which means that about 90 percent of all forklifts will be involved in some type of accident during their useful life.

The main cause of forklift fatalities is tipovers (42 percent). The other causes are crushed between vehicle and a surface (25 percent), crushed between two vehicles (11 percent), struck or run over by a forklift (10 percent), struck by falling material (8 percent) and fall from platform on the forks (4 percent).

Fatalities occur most likely in manufacturing facilities (42 percent), followed by construction (23.8 percent), wholesale trades (12.5 percent), transportation (11 percent), retail trade (9 percent) and mining (1.2 percent).

Studies show that most accidents could have been prevented by better training and training can also reduce the severity of an accident.


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