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The father of a 19-year-old man killed in a forklift accident at a downstate Illinois warehouse has filed a $1.2 million lawsuit claiming that not enough safety features were in place to save the man’s life.
On July 15, Zachery Boland, of Mitchell, Illinois, was killed while operating a forklift at a warehouse owned by Gateway RT in Pontoon Beach, Illinois.
According to police, Boland was using his forklift to unload a truck when one of his coworkers unexpectedly pulled the truck forward, causing Boland’s vehicle to fall into the gap between the loading dock and the truck’s bed.
The forklift flipped and Boland struck his head on the loading dock’s door plate. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the coroner’s office.
According to the 16-count lawsuit, the area where Boland was working lacked any sort of vehicle restraint or wheel restraint system. There also was no electronic signaling with the dock leveler, no red or green warning system, or any other type of safety device to alert the truck driver that the dock leveler was in use.
The lawsuit also claims there was not adequate surveillance or communication between the truck’s driver and dock worker, and not enough warning signs.
Boland, a member of the Class of 2014 at Granite City High School, had only been working at the warehouse as a forklift operator for less than a month at the time of the fatal accident.
Named in the lawsuit were Gateway RT, the owner of the warehouse; DTZ Americas, the company that managed the warehouse; Blue Giant Equipment, which makes and sells loading dock equipment; and Roberts Loading Dock Equipment Company, which installs and sells forklift and loading dock equipment.
Also named was NACCO Materials Handling Group, which sells and leases forklifts. The suit — which was filed by Boland’s father, Michael Boland — claims that the forklift Boland was driving did not have a seat belt, harness, headrest, restrain, guard, latching door, or any other safety devices to keep the driver’s head and torso protected in the event of a vehicle tip-over.
Not named in the suit was Boland’s employer, Saddle Creek Logistics Services, although after the accident the company was cited by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a serious violation, namely “not providing a workplace free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”
OSHA fined the company $7,000 but said the financial penalty could be avoided if the company installed a dock locking system that used rear impact guard hooks and wheel lock systems with stop and go lights, and audible notification systems, or a system that used an air hose to create a connection between trucks and the docks that prevented trucks from pulling away while being loaded or unloaded.