We see them everywhere. They’re at construction sites and loading docks. They’re washing windows and hauling luggage. They’re green, blue, yellow, red and every color in between. They are specialized industrial and construction equipment such as forklifts, telehandlers, boom lifts, scissor lifts, skid steers, and aerial work platforms and they are involved in accidents every day.
These incidents are rarely simple. There are often multiple parties involved. There can be the manufacturer, a rental company, a contractor, a subcontractor or an operator. What caused the accident can be equally complex. Was the mishap a result of the equipment being misused, defective, not maintained, not appropriate for the application, or was the operator not trained properly? Was faulty design the major contributor to the accident or was it operator error? Because of the industrial or construction nature of many of these accidents, the equipment is very powerful and the accidents often involve serious injuries and extensive damages. Therefore it is essential that the right expert is brought in early in the case. What type of expert is needed to investigate these accidents?
Familiarity with the equipment is essential. If the incident was an industrial accident involving a forklift, the expert should have experience operating a forklift in an industrial environment. In addition to familiarity with the equipment, there are also qualifications and credentials that go along with this complex machinery.
It is important that along with having operated similar equipment that an expert should be trained in the class of equipment involved. If the accident involved a scissor lift, it would be important that an expert be trained and certified in operation of aerial work platforms. There are specific OSHA requirements for the operation of aerial work platforms.
While familiarity and qualifications are important, they do not by themselves make a good expert. It is imperative that any expert brought in to investigate these accidents be a licensed professional engineer. It is the formal training of an engineer that allows the expert to understand all the potential variables that can contribute to a mishap. A mechanical engineer will have the knowledge and experience to recognize failures in design or faulty components and determine if an accident was operator error or the result of a poorly designed switch.
The expert should also be familiar with the environment where the accident occurred. If the accident occurred at a factory, the engineer should be familiar with the manufacturing process, the safety requirements of that workplace and the unique factors that come into play there and recognize the workplace hazards that may exist.
All forklifts are not identical. If you know one skid steer, you do not know them all. There are multiple manufacturers of all these pieces of equipments. Each manufacturer has addressed design challenges in different ways and incorporated distinctive features into their equipment. Therefore each manufacturer’s product has specific design strengths and weaknesses and certain features are unique to certain manufacturers. It is very important that an expert be aware of the vagaries of designs and be knowledgeable as to how they may or may not have affect a mishap.
CED has assisted with hundreds of cases involving this type of equipment and has specific engineers that specialize in investigating these accidents. Therefore, should you require assistance, call us at 800.780.4221 or please visit our website at www.cedtechnologies.com.