Forklifts are well known workhorses in the construction industry used in everything from warehouses to job sites. They come in various shapes and sizes, with the ability to lift and transport anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 pounds with industrial forklift models. With a machine this powerful, there is always the potential for injury.
In fact, the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has shown that in 2018 there were almost 8,000 forklift-related injuries, an increase of about 6% from the previous year. The industry also has very different employment trends across the U.S. which all tell the story of a changing landscape for heavy machinery operators.
So, to help give some extra insight into the industry, we’ve compiled a list of forklift statistics that everyone in the construction should know.
One main note on the dates used in the statistics: the two main sources are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since most take a full year to deliver the previous year’s statistics, most of the data available is still from 2018-2019.
Forklift Safety Statistics
The forklift’s condensed size enables it to move quickly between aisles and open areas. The tiny titans can drive up to 18 miles per hour. This speed combined with the powerful lifting capabilities can lead to trouble if operators are not properly trained.
Even with proper training, injuries can and do occur on construction sites. Here’s a look at some of the key accidents and injuries in the forklift industry.
1. Of the 7,940 non-fatal forklift injuries in 2018, just under 88 percent happened to men and 12 percent to women. [BLS]
2. Forklift and industrial truck accidents are responsible for an average of 34,900 injuries per year. [OSHA]
3. 1,700 non-fatal forklift injuries occurred to operators ages 25 to 34, making it the highest injured group in 2018. [BLS]
4. Service-providing industries like warehouses, transportation and utilities, had the highest injury total over any other industry with 5,390 forklift-related injury cases in 2018. [BLS]
5. From 2011 to 2018, an average of 7.1 percent of workers missed work each year due to a forklift-related injury. [BLS]
6. In 2018, the three leading injuries from forklift accidents were fractures (1,710), bruises contusions (1,570) and sprains/muscle tears (1,490). [BLS]
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that the leading cause of forklift-related fatalities are overturned vehicles. Close behind are pedestrian injuries and dropping materials.
Here is a closer look at the fatality trends in the industry.
7. Forklift overturns are the cause of about 25 percent of deaths. [OSHA]
8. Of the all the forklift-related fatalities that occurred in 2018, 99 percent were men and one percent were women. [BLS]
9. Fatality rates occurred the highest in 55 to 64 year-olds in 2018, with 23 deaths. [BLS]
10. In 2018, 20 forklift-related deaths occurred as a result of being struck by equipment. [BLS]
Salary and Employment Statistics in the Powered Industrial Truck Industry
Outside of fatalities and injuries, there are also large differences in the salaries and employment rates in the industry across the nation. Below are some of the main trends for forklift operators.
(For this data, forklifts fall into OSHA’s classification known as powered industrial trucks. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), forklifts fall into the data categories of industrial truck and tractor operators.)
11. As of 2019, Texas has the highest level (68,830) of employed industrial truck and tractor operators, ahead of California (64,760) and Georgia (36,650). [BLS]
12. The District of Columbia was the highest paying state ($52,670) in 2019 for industrial truck and tractor operators. The mean (average) annual salary in the United States was $37,930. [BLS]
13. In 2019, industrial truck and tractor operators in Puerto Rico were paid one of the lowest salaries ($22,160), just short of Guam ($29,260) when compared to states on the mainland. [BLS]
14. In 2019, Mississippi had the highest concentration (9,250) of industrial truck and tractor jobs in the United States. [BLS]
15. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, has the highest employment rate (23,890) of industrial truck and tractor operators compared to any other city in the United States. [BLS]
16. By 2028, industrial truck and tractor operators are projected to increase from 615,000 (2018) to 642,000 employed workers. [BLS]
Forklift Rental Statistics
17. The most popular month to rent forklifts in 2019 was September. The least popular month was January. [Bigrentz]
18. The least popular forklift product rental since 2018 is the rough terrain forklift. [Bigrentz]
Whether renting a forklift for the warehouse or the construction site, companies should consider requiring operators to pass a forklift training certification and understand these forklift safety tips before getting behind the wheel.
In raising awareness about forklift safety, National Forklift Safety Day occurs every second Tuesday in June. The event raises awareness on topics like forklift safety hazards and vehicle advancements. Businesses and industry professionals congregate to learn how to implement greater safety standards within their places of work.
These forklift statistics aren’t meant to dissuade you from making your work-life easier. Rather, illustrate the hazards that come with operating heavy construction equipment. This will ensure that your next project goes off without a hitch.