Unnamed Worker Dies at Logan Airport After Becoming Trapped Under Forklift

August 31, 2023

August 31, 2023
Jame Jones, Communications Coordinator
(857) 301-7730

Unnamed Worker Dies at Logan Airport After Becoming Trapped Under Forklift

The death of an unnamed worker at Logan Airport is a tragic reminder that employers must take every precaution to protect workers who operate forklifts, said the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (MassCOSH) in a statement released today.

As reported by the Massachusetts State Police, the worker, a 51-year-old man from Winthrop and employee of a JetBlue sub-contractor, was operating a forklift when, at approximately 3:20pm yesterday, he became trapped under the vehicle after not clearing a lateral beam while driving through a lower bag service entrance. The beam had a sign indicating a vertical clearance of 8’6”, which the forklift exceeded due to a raised backrest extension. Several co-workers arrived at the scene after hearing the crash and used an aircraft tow bar to pull him out from under the machine. Police, Boston EMS, and Massport Fire then arrived and attempted to perform life-saving measures. He was sent to Boston Medical Center where he was tragically pronounced dead.

Last year, five workers died from contact with objects or equipment, as reported in MassCOSH’s Dying for Work in Massachusetts, making it the fourth most common cause of death in 2022. Moreover, forklifts are particularly deadly to workers. According to data compiled by Safety in Numbers, a resource guide dedicated to educating others about workplace hazards, there’s a 90% likelihood that any given forklift will be involved in at least one serious accident or fatality over the course of its functional lifetime. Among the fatalities from forklifts, being crushed from one tipping over accounts for 42%, making it by far the most common way that forklifts kill workers.

Employers bear full responsibility for keeping their workers safe on the job. Companies that use forklifts should evaluate work areas and create specific rules and guidelines on where within the worksite these vehicles can be safely used, including which areas become unsafe depending on how the component parts of the forklift are situated.

To better protect against tip overs, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that any operators of forklifts equipped with seatbelts be obligated to use them.

OSHA’s online records report that, at the time of this release, JetBlue has been cited for two violations over the past five years for failing to provide workers with adequate protection from falls.

“Forklifts continue to pose a dangerous threat to workers,” said MassCOSH Chief of Strategy & Engagement Al Vega. “We hope companies and employers who see these headlines will do the right thing and provide their employees with the necessary training and protections to ensure they go home safe each day. While we do not yet know the name of this worker, our thoughts are with his family, friends and co-workers at this incredibly difficult time.”