Forklift accident claims life of worker at B.C. packing plant

WorkSafeBC is currently investigating the death of a worker who was run over by a forklift in a packing plant in North Delta, a bedroom community in Greater Vancouver, on Jan. 20.

The incident occurred at the Cratex Industrial Packing Ltd. plant on the afternoon of that day. According to A/Sgt. Sarah Swallow, media relations officer with the Delta Police, officers responded to two 9-1-1 calls at about 2:30 p.m.

“When our officers arrived on the scene, they found a 36-year-old man that had been run over by a forklift,” said A/Sgt. Swallow. “From what I understand, it was sort of one of the more industrial-sized forklifts.” First responders tried to help the worker, but he died at the scene, she added.

The police found no evidence of any criminal nature to the incident. “It looks like it was just a really, really tragic accident,” said A/Sgt. Swallow.

WorkSafeBC received notification about the accident through its prevention line at 2:57 p.m., according to Trish Knight Chernecki, the organization’s senior manager of media and government relations. The police immediately handed the case over to WorkSafeBC as an oh&s investigation.

Chernecki confirmed general information, but could not provide further details. “Because it’s under investigation, all we know is the initial action request. That’s all we have,” she said. The victim’s name has not been released publicly.

This was the second death from a forklift accident in the area since October, A/Sgt. Swallow said, adding that industrial accidents involving forklifts and similar vehicles are not uncommon there.

“Certainly a lot of the industrial accidents we do go to do involve some sort of vehicle backing up,” she said. “The forklift is usually backing up or making a backwards turn.”

WorkSafeBC’s website contains multiple resources for employers and workers about forklift safety. “Injuries do occur with forklifts,” said Chernecki, “and it’s been something that we’ve been wanting to build public awareness about.”

Among the safety tips that WorkSafeBC offers regarding the operation of forklifts around other workers:

  • Keep a clear view of the travel path;
  • When vision becomes blocked, slow down and sound the horn;
  • Drive at a speed that allows you to stop safely and easily;
  • When another worker is crossing the travel path, stop the forklift and lower the load to the ground until the way is clear;
  • Never raise or lower the load while the vehicle is in motion; and
  • Whenever possible, keep the forklift well away from other workers.

Cratex was founded in 1975 and currently owns a large warehouse and manufacturing building in North Delta.

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