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The importance of proper equipment in the workplace

Louisiana warehouse workers who need to reach items on high shelves need to be provided with the proper equipment and training to be lifted to those shelves safely. A warehouse worker was fatally injured when he fell 7 feet to a concrete floor after standing on a pallet that had been lifted by a forklift to a top shelf. This was common practice in his workplace, and the workers did not have another way to safely access high shelves.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the incident and found that the employer should have prohibited this practice, which was against the forklift manufacturer's instructions. It also said that the employees should have been provided with training and with equipment that would allow them to be safely lifted. One option is a personnel platform. Requiring written approval from the manufacturer of the forklift, this platform comes with fall protection such as a guardrail. Another option is a high-lift order picker. This is an industrial truck class that includes fall arrest equipment.

Workers would also need training on forklift safety. Employers are responsible for making sure that the use of the forklift is consistent with manufacturer instructions. Employers are also obligated to make a workplace safe in general, and workers who feel their workplace is unsafe may file a confidential complaint with OSHA.

When a person is injured in the workplace, workers' compensation should help support the employee and the employee's family during recovery. Employees whose employers tell them they are ineligible for workers' compensation or who try to discourage them from applying may want to talk to an attorney about their rights. Workers may fear retaliation if they file a compensation claim, but this is also not permitted. An attorney may be able to assist an employee with paperwork, with any necessary appeals and with any threats of retaliation from the employer.

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