Forklift accidents are more common than you may think. According to OSHA, there are approximately 85 fatal forklift accidents and 34,900 serious injury accidents each year in the United States. These accidents can occur for various reasons, such as operator error, lack of training, poor maintenance, and inadequate safety measures.

Staffing companies may assume general liability risk even though they do not own the equipment and are often not directly managing the operators.  If an accident causes damages to a third-party (such as the host employer) by a staffing agency employee, the staffing agency can ultimately be held responsible for those costs which may include damage to the forklift, and/or property, and injuries to other employees.

While most claims arising from operation failure are covered under the staffing agency’s general liability policy, there are certain claims that may be excluded from coverage, such as accidents that occur while driving the equipment on a public road. In these cases, businesses may need to rely on their commercial auto liability insurance to cover the claim.

Staffing agencies should follow OSHA’s requirements to minimize the financial impact of general liability and workers’ compensation claims. This includes:

  • Ensuring formal training is provided by host employer.
  • Implementing proper forklift certification program, and
  • Establishing a schedule for retraining as needed.

Recommended Requirements

A comprehensive assessment of the entire forklift program is essential to mitigate the risk of an accident involving this equipment. Staffing agencies should conduct regular inspections and audits of training programs, inspections, and maintenance.

Training program requirements for a powered industrial truck operator should be performance-oriented, meaning that host employers should tailor the training program to the characteristics of the workplace and the specific types of powered industrial trucks operated. Even if an employee has previous forklift experience, they must be trained on the specific equipment at each facility and in that facility environment.

Clearly outline coverage responsibilities in the contract.  It is important to include powered industrial trucks and general liability insurance in the contract, along with program and documentation requirements. By taking these steps, staffing agencies can help prevent accidents and reduce the economic impact of forklift-related incidents.

To learn more, please contact a Marsh McLennan Agency advisor.

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