In Forklift Accident, ‘Cribbings’ May Save Your Life


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Wooden “cribbings” — which are 4-inch by 4-inch blocks of wood — could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a forklift accident.

Cribbings are used by rescue workers to support forklifts and other heavy equipment when the vehicles accidentally tip over on their drivers or pedestrians. They are what allow rescue workers to pull the injured out from under the machinery safely.

Cribbings Save Trapped Worker

Cribbings were used to help rescue a worker trapped beneath a forklift last Saturday at Little Lady Foods, a frozen food processing plan in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The worker had just walked out of an office when he was struck by a moving forklift, according to village fire officials.

The man fell and his legs were pinned beneath the vehicle from the knees down, according to Fire Chief Lance Harris. Workers from the plant tried to lift the forklift using other forklifts and jacks, but were unsuccessful.

When firefighters arrived, they were able to use power jacks to lift the vehicle several inches, then reinforce the jacks with cribbings so that they could free the victim’s legs. The man was rushed to the nearby Alexian Brothers Medical Center, where he was being treated for “traumatic injuries to his lower extremities,” although he is expected to survive, Harris said.

Cribbings to the Rescue Once Again

Cribbings also were used to rescue a worker at a Fort Worth, Texas, business on Wednesday.

A forklift operator was moving materials with his vehicle when the vehicle suddenly tipped, trapping the driver beneath it, according to Fire Captain J.W. Brunson.

“He had a load up in the air and was backing with it and the counterbalance rolled over,” Brunson said.

The forklift fell on top of the man in such a way that lifting it straight up could have killed him. So firefighters used inflatable bladders inflated with compressed air to gently lift the forklift so the driver could be removed. Wooden cribbings were then inserted to stabilize the lift in case the bag should suddenly deflate.

The cribbings are sort of like jack stands for cars, Brunson said.

“We have a saying, ‘Life an inch, crib an inch,’ ” he said.

The forklift operator was taken by helicopter to an area hospital.

“He was in stable condition when he left the scene,”  Brunson said. “I know he did have a leg injury, pretty significant leg injury.”

Withouth Cribbings, a Different Outcome

While that incident may have resulted in the man’s survival, such was not the case in another forklift accident that occurred Tuesday in the town of Moonbi, located in New South  Wales, Australia.

A 76-year-old man was found trapped under a forklift that had rolled into a creek bed. When rescue workers were unable to lift the vehicle, a trauma doctor was called to the scene who, with the assistance of paramedics, amputated the man’s legs to free him.

The man later died of his injuries at a nearby hospital.



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