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While safer than forklifts, tugger trains can injure workers

If you work in a manufacturing facility, you likely share floor space with at least one forklift. You may also regularly drive one when performing your job duties. As you likely know from your safety training, forklifts can be dangerous. In fact, in2018, nearly 8,000 individuals sustained an on-the-job injury when working in or around a forklift.   

To improve worker safety, some manufacturers have swapped their forklifts for tugger trains. With these, a forward-facing tug pulls a series of reinforced carts. While anecdotal evidence suggests that tugs are safer than forklifts, they do not eliminate a worker’s chance of injury. Here are some ways you may suffer an injury when working on or near a tugger train: 

Collisions 

Even though tugger trains tend to move in predictable ways, you may collide with one that is moving forward or backward. Because tugs are heavy, you may sustain a variety of injuries in a collision, including broken bones, lacerations and traumatic brain injuries. 

Burns 

Like all equipment with electrical components, tugs pose a shock risk. Even a minor jolt may cause severe burns. As such, you must exercise additional care when working with electrical systems on the tugger train. 

Smashes 

If your job duties require you to connect and disconnect carts, you must be careful not to smash your hands, wrists and fingers. While a minor smash may be a painful annoyance, a more serious one may result in a compound fracture or amputation. 

Strains 

When you are loading items into a cart, your neck, back, shoulders, legs and arms are susceptible to strains. While practicing safe lifting techniques may decrease your chances of suffering an acute injury, you may sustain long-term muscular damage with repetitive movements. 

If your employer has replaced forklifts with tugger trains, your workplace is probably safer than it was before. Still, tugs present their own safety challenges. By understanding how injuries sometimes occur when working on or near a tugger train, you can better plan for staying safe every time you clock in.

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