BOSTON–The death of 51-year-old Alphonse Ferent of Stoughton, MA, killed Tuesday afternoon in a fatal workplace incident in Freetown, is a tragic and needless loss of life, said the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) in a statement.
According to media reports, Ferent was working at a distribution center for Stop & Shop supermarkets when he fell between a loading dock and a tractor-trailer that was pulling away from the dock. A forklift that was unloading material from the truck then fell on top of him.
According to Region 1 Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) accident reports, from 2007 to 2017, 20 workers in New England have been crushed to death by objects and machines at the workplace. The death of Ferent marks the 21st death. The Region 1 Office of OSHA covers Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Nationally, OSHA estimates forklifts cause about 85 fatal accidents per year. According to the Industrial Truck Association, there are about 855,900 forklifts in the U.S. Therefore, over 11% of all forklifts will be involved in an accident each year. The most common injuries are crushing injuries to the head, neck, or back where the overhead guard strikes the employee.
Employers bear full responsibility for keeping their workers safe on the job. Companies that transport goods should evaluate work areas, including parking lots and loading dock areas, for vehicle movement patterns and create designated walking and working areas for employees that place them a safe distance from vehicles like forklifts to prevent injuries.
“Our thoughts go out to the friends and family of Alphonse,” said MassCOSH Interim Executive Director Al Vega. “Here at MassCOSH, we have seen far too many lives lost at loading docks. Until employers recognize the inherent dangers that come with moving goods at distribution centers and take to heart their responsibility to keep their workers safe no matter what, we will continue to senselessly lose men and women on the job.”