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OSHA Forklift Accident Statistics & Facts You Need to Know

by Carllaen Joshua Gonzales 12 Jan 2024 0 Comments

In a warehouse, the forklift is often the most dangerous piece of equipment. And OSHA forklift accident statistics support this. Forklifts can cause injuries to pedestrians, forklift drivers, and property damage. In this article, we've sourced information from trusted studies and government sources to provide you with the most up to date and accurate statistics on this topic. Keep reading to find out more.

OSHA forklift accident statistics

Article Summary:

1. Key OSHA forklift accident statistics
2. Why are forklifts so dangerous?
3. Causes of forklift accidents
4. Cost of forklift accidents
5. How to prevent forklift accidents


Key OSHA forklift accident statistics

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration's most recent estimates indicate that between 35,000 and 62,000 injuries occur every year involving forklifts. (OSHA)
  • 36% of forklift fatalities involve pedestrians. (OSHA)
  • Approximately 42% of all fatal forklift accidents involve being crushed by the vehicle when it’s tipping over. (OSHA)
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2017, there were 9,050 forklift-related injuries serious enough to cause employees to take time off work. In 2018, that number went down to 7,940. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Data from the National Safety Council suggests that 78 fatalities occurred due to forklift accidents in 2020. (NSC)
  • Approximately 11% of forklifts are involved in some kind of accident each year. There are 855,900 forklifts in the US alone. (Industrial Truck Association)
  • Forklift accidents in a warehouse account for 30% of all forklift accidents. (HSE)
  • Manufacturing is the most common industry for forklift fatalities (42.50%), followed by Construction (23.80%)

forklift accident statistics by industry

  • Forklift accidents that result in serious injury total 34,900 annually.
  • Non-serious injuries related to forklift accidents reach 61,800 each year. 
  • From 2022 - 2023, OSHA recorded 205 accidents involving forklifts, with 128 resulting in fatalities.

Related article: Guide to OSHA Forklift Rules in Ontario

Why are forklifts dangerous?

It's important to know what makes a forklift such a workplace hazard and why operators should handle it very carefully and follow safety procedures. Forklifts are considered dangerous because:

  • They can weigh up to 9,000lbs, which is three times heavier than most cars.
  • They can travel up to 18mph.
  • Forklifts are heavier in the rear to compensate for the heavy loads being carried in the front. This uneven forklift weight distribution can make a forklift difficult to handle. 
  • Forklifts are often used to raise heavy loads to considerable heights, which is always dangerous.
  • Loads are carried in the front of a forklift, which can obstruct the view of the driver.
  • A forklift is turned by the rear wheels, causing the rear end to swing outward. This increases the chance of tipping over during tight turns. 
  • Unlike a car, forklifts only have brakes in the front, making them harder to stop.

Causes of forklift accidents

forklift accidents overturning

Roughly 25% of forklift injuries are a result of forklift overturning, making it the most common type of forklift accident. Others include:

  • Lack of proper operator training
  • Pedestrian impacts 
  • Falling loads
  • Truck falling off a dock or trailer
  • Personnel falling from forks
  • Blocked sight
  • Mechanical failures
  • Emissions Poisoning 
  • Crushed by forklift

Based on the data gathered from OSHA, 36% of forklift fatalities involve pedestrians. Workers who work 12-hour shifts are 37% more at risk of injury or of causing accidents.

Cost of forklift accidents

Forklift accidents are no joke. They come with different types of costs that must be considered:

  • First of all, there's the cost of human life, which you can't put a value on.
  • The average cost of workers’ compensation claims is $41,003 USD.
  • The average cost per OSHA safety violation is $13,494 USD.
  • The cost to repair a wrecked forklift, which can be thousands of dollars.
  • The cost of “lost time” for an injured employee being away from work.
  • The cost of “lost productivity” which results from a damaged forklift being off the production floor.

cost of forklift accidents

How to prevent forklift accidents

The majority of forklift accidents are 100% preventable. The best way to prevent forklift accidents is to focus on these three areas: training, inspection, and protection.


A significant number of accidents are attributed to undertrained forklift operators. As such, OSHA requires forklift operators to be "competent" and must adhere to the standard forklift regulation and guidelines. This is because 70% of forklift injuries could be avoided with better training policies. 

forklift training


Before operating a forklift truck, a thorough examination and inspection of the powered industrial vehicle must be done. This includes checking the brakes, looking for any leaks or hydraulic failures, checking proper tire inflation, and calibrating the steering system responsiveness. 

forklift inspection


While training and inspections will help prevent many forklift accidents, it is also important that people who work closely with forklifts wear proper protection and observe safety procedures. This includes strategic placement of impact barriers and wearing seatbelts and head protective gear.

To wrap up

The alarming OSHA forklift accident statistics outlined above highlight a critical issue in workplace safety. Forklifts, though important in warehousing and industrial settings, present significant risks due to their unique design and the demanding environments in which they operate.

The consequences of forklift accidents are severe, ranging from substantial financial costs to tragic loss of life. However, the data also reveals a silver lining: the majority of these accidents are preventable. By prioritizing comprehensive training, rigorous inspection protocols, and robust protection measures, companies can dramatically reduce the incidence of forklift-related accidents.



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