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It’s a sad fact of life that forklift accidents happen all the time. Because forklifts are fast-moving, heavy pieces of machinery that are frequently used in crowded conditions, crashes, collisions and tip-overs are one of those unfortunate realities we all have to face.
But two recent incidents that made the news show how two different forklift accidents had two very divergent results — and the surprising factor that made the difference.
First, we learn why the easy, instinctive controls of a forklift are one of its biggest benefits.
Woman Uses Forklift to Rescue Husband
In Victoria, New Zealand, a man was using a forklift on Thursday, October 16, to lift a bus while he worked underneath the vehicle. Unexpectedly, the bus fell off the forklift’s tines and landed on top of him, trapping him beneath the vehicle, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.
Although the man was hurt, he was able to reach into his pocket and grab his mobile phone, according to Senior Constable Brent Yearwood, of the Victoria constabulary force.
“The bloke called his wife, his wife came and got a forklift and lifted the bus up off him,” Yearwood said.
Amazingly, the woman had never operated a forklift before but was able to instinctively figure out the controls and use the vehicle to lift the bus off her husband.
When police arrived, the found the man lying next to the bus with a gash to his arm and head. Paramedics worked on the man, who was eventually airlifted to The Alfred Hospital, in Victoria, where he was listed in serious but stable condition.
Trucker Smashes Forklift into Overpass
While forklift controls may be easily managed even by inexperienced operators, basic forklift safety is simply beyond some operators.
Take the driver of a truck hauling a forklift in Longview, Texas, for example. On the same day as the woman was making her daring rescue in New Zealand, the driver was hauling a forklift on the back of his flatbed along Interstate 20 when he approached the bridge overpass for South Eastman Road, according to a report from KETK-TV in Dallas.
Now, forklifts are tall. And when they are on the back of a flatbed truck, they are even higher off the ground.
The drivers of tractor trailer trucks usually know the exact height of their trailers because it is generally printed on the back of the vehicle. And the clearance of highway overpasses are usually more than enough to accommodate most trucks.
But they aren’t tall enough for a flatbed truck carrying an over-sized forklift.
Wham! The mast of the forklift hit the overpass, the forklift’s cab was ripped off its moorings and the whole forklift came crashing down onto the northbound shoulder of the busy interstate with a ear-splitting BOOM!
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the incident, although the truck driver was given a ticket for disobeying the posted height warning signs.
Damage to the overpass was minimal. The forklift, however, was essentially totaled.
One day, two forklift accidents, two different outcomes. The difference? One person used her brains and the other person didn’t.