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Truck Rollaways: The Most Common Cause of Forklift Injury Accidents

Over the years, we have had several clients that were injured in forklift accidents. One of the most common causes of forklift accidents is a truck rollaway.

How a Truck Rollaway Happens

A truck trailer rollaway can happen when a forklift operator attempts to drive his forklift onto the back of a trailer docked at a loading dock—a task that most forklift operators do dozens of times every day. When a truck driver or warehouse worker fails to properly secure the truck trailer to the dock, the force of a forklift entering can cause the trailer to rollaway from the dock.

As a result, the forklift and the person operating it can drop five feet onto the pavement below. You can imagine that when a 9,000 pound forklift crashes onto the ground, the forklift operator can suffer serious spinal injuries.

Safety Training is Key to Preventing Forklift Injury Accidents

If everyone did their job correctly, truck trailer rollaways would never occur. When a trailer is backed up to a loading dock, there are several mechanical methods to guarantee that a trailer won’t roll away from the dock when a forklift drives on board. First, the truck driver should set or lock his truck’s airbrakes. Setting the truck’s brakes takes no more than a couple of seconds and is second nature for properly trained truck drivers.

Truck Chocks

Next, the truck driver or a designated warehouse worker should apply rubber chocks to the truck’s tires. Chocks, like the ones above, are wedged underneath the rear tires of the trailer to prevent the wheels from rolling. Like applying the brakes, using chocks guarantees that the trailer won’t roll away when a forklift enters it. Again, this securement method takes mere seconds.

Every safe trucking company in the country has a policy requiring its drivers to lock their brakes AND chock their wheels when securing a truck to a dock. 

Despite the two methods that both prevent rollaways and protect forklift operators, truck trailer rollaway accidents still happen every day across the country. Why? In many cases, it’s because that particular driver was in a hurry or was improperly trained.

A Real Look at a Forklift Injury Case

In July, we resolved a forklift injury case in which the truck driver failed to set his brakes and failed to chock his wheels. Making matters worse, he filled out paperwork indicating that he had utilized both of the securement methods, AND that it was safe for our client to drive onto the back of this trailer.

When the driver handed the falsified paperwork to our client, he sealed our client’s fate. The moment our client attempted to drive onto the trailer, it rolled away and our client was left with permanent injuries that rendered him unable to continue working as a forklift operator.

In that case, the driver testified that the company provided him no training on the importance of chocking and locking his trailer.

Until all trucking companies properly train their drivers to lock their brakes and chock their wheels, trailer rollaways will happen every day—and more forklift operators will suffer serious permanent spinal injuries. 

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