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Making forklift safety a priority on Louisiana's docks

Even though Louisiana workers assume a certain amount of risk when they take a job at a dock or harbor, it does not release their employers from providing a safe work environment. In fact, state and federal law require it. This extends to the equipment used in order to perform their duties, including forklifts. Employers are responsible for making sure that forklift safety is a priority for everyone in order to avoid accidents that could lead to serious or fatal injuries.

For instance, only employees who have the proper training should operate forklifts. Employers are responsible for making sure these vehicles remain in good working order, which means keeping up with routine maintenance and making repairs as soon as an issue is discovered. Even cleanliness is important since oil, grease and other debris creates a dangerous hazard.

Employees should observe all safety rules when forklifts are in use. For example, the load should be properly balanced, not exceed weight limits and not be raised or lowered while the forklift is in motion. Drivers should wear a seat belt if one is available, watch for pedestrians and other traffic, and remain aware of surroundings at all times. Just because the vehicle does not travel the roadways does not mean that crashes are not just as devastating.

Even when the rules of forklift safety are observed, accidents can still happen. An injured Louisiana worker could end up facing a lengthy recovery depending on the injuries suffered, which will most certainly have a financial impact. Fortunately, injured dock and harbor workers may pursue benefits needed in order to relieve the monetary burdens that accompany such accidents through the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

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