Pallet Accident Claim *
Pallets are used to assemble, store transport and handle goods. They are used in a number of industries and are a common cause of accidents in the workplace. Due to the weight of the pallets and items that may be stacked on them, accidents can be quite dangerous and serious. There are a number of injuries that can be sustained as a result of an accident involving a pallet *. If you have been involved in an accident in the workplace * you may be entitled to make a claim for damages. In order to do this, you will need to determine who is liable for the cause of the accident.
Who is liable?
All employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety of staff at all times. Pallet accidents * commonly occur in factories, warehouse environments and stockrooms where they would be used on a daily basis. It is up to the employer to provide a safe working environment for their employees in order to ensure that there is no risk of accidents or injuries *. If there are health and safety regulations in place the then accidents at work * could be avoided. Employees also have a responsibility to ensure that they do not act in a negligent manner which could put the health and safety of their co-workers at risk. Saying this, it is ultimately up to the employer to ensure that all staff have received the correct training and are aware of the potential risks associated with the work to be carried out.
Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005
This is the main legislation in Ireland which looks after health and safety in the workplace. The Act outlines the duties of both the employer and employee when it comes to prioritising the wellbeing of staff while carrying out their work and ensuring that they do not act in a negligent manner throughout the course of their work.
- Manage activities in a way which prioritises the health and safety of employees
- Put safety measures in place to help prevent accidents and injuries *
- Provide adequate training and personal protective equipment that is necessary to carry out the job in a safe manner
- Ensure that the working environment is practical for the work that is to be carried out
- Co-operate with their employer in relation to following regulations and procedures
- Attend any training that is provided to them
- Report any problems or defects that they come across during the course of their work
- Do not act in a negligent manner as this may lead to an accident or injury
Powered Pallet Trucks (PPT)
One type of machinery that is used in a warehouse is a powered pallet truck and is used for transporting pallets from one location to another. It should only be used by a trained employee as an unsupervised, inexperienced person may cause an accident or injury to themselves or others surrounding them.
Training should provide the operator with knowledge of:
- Pre-shift inspections
- Load capacity
- Handle positions – raise and lower loads
- Be familiar with their surroundings, know of any possible obstacles they may need to maneuverer around
Accidents occur because an employer allows a person to operate this tool without proper training, an obstacle has been left in the person’s pathway or wet floors cause them to slip and lose the load they were carrying.
A pallet jack is similar in ways to a pallet truck, the difference being that it is not motorised and a person must manually push and pull this tool to move pallets around a warehouse.
- Cuts and lacerations
- Injuries to the legs and feet
- Head Injuries
- Back and spinal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Breaks and fractures
- Herniated Discs
Lack of training
Inadequate training is a common cause of many workplace accidents *. It is important that all employees are correctly trained on how to carry out their job as this will help to reduce the risk of accidents occurring. Employees should know how to use pallet trucks and how items should be stacked on them to reduce the risk of an accident. All employees should ensure that they attend all training provided to them by their employer as they may be found liable if it is found that they acted negligently and did not attend training.
Inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Protective equipment is necessary for all employees in certain industries, such as factories and warehouses. The employer must provide adequate PPE to their employees where needed. Wearing the correct equipment can greatly reduce the chances of an accident occurring. This equipment includes gloves, footwear, hats and facial protection such as masks and glasses.
If an employer is acting negligently during the course of their work it is likely that an accident will occur. If the movement of pallets is not carried out for the intended purpose the chances of an accident occurring will be higher. If you have sustained injuries at work you may be found liable if it is found that you were acting in a negligent manner in the lead up to the accident. Actions that employees need to be careful about are:
- Only push pallet jacks – pulling can cause serious strain on shoulders
- Start the pallet jack slowly – sudden jerks could cause the load to fall
- Never stand on a pallet truck or pallet jack
- Never stand on the edges of a pallet
- Never leave a pallet jack or truck with the load elevated
- Move slowly, watch your heels!
- Keep the jack or truck in front of you when moving down a ramp
It is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that all equipment used in the workplace is maintained to a high standard to ensure the health and safety of employees who may be using the work equipment. Poorly maintained or broken pallets could become a potential hazard for those in the working environment.
Incorrectly staking pallets
Items which are incorrectly stacked on pallet could cause them to fall and cause injury to workers. Unsafe stacking could also lead to pallets breaking making them unsafe to use and transport. It is important that all employees are trained on how to correctly stack pallets to avoid the risk of falling items. Unsafe stacking could also cause problems during transportation as items may fall and break. If pallets are being transported to another location this could cause injury to those who are receiving the items and pallets.
Faulty pallet trucks/pallet jacks
Accidents can be caused in cases where the pallet trucks used are damaged or worn. Maintenance is very important in keeping the operators of the pallet trucks safe. Other causes of faulty trucks are:
- Faulty wheels – flat spots on wheels causing harder rotation
- Failing hydraulics
- Inadequate signage of load capacity on truck
Other injuries include:
- Strain or dislocation of the shoulder from moving the pallets
- Repetitive strain injuries from pulling and pushing pallets
- Trips from exposed forks of pallet trucks
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