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Real people can get lost in the statistics

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In both the material handling world and the safety world, we can get caught up in tons of statistics. When you watch the news on TV, listen to the radio or read an article you see so many stats that you become almost numb to them. This was apparent to me when the Tsunami killed huge amounts of people in Asia years ago. You can hear that hundreds of thousands of people were killed, but it is almost impossible to comprehend the tremendous loss and suffering, unless you were there or had a personal connection. You find yourself listening and then a few seconds later forgetting about it and doing something else.

In my forklift safety operator’s class, we tell operators that there are approximately 100 deaths and somewhere between 65,000-96,000 injuries each year in the U.S. I have said it so many times that it almost loses its affect on me, at least until I come in contact with an injured operator or hear a personal story. When I hear the personal and intimate details of what a serious forklift accident does to a family it makes me realize that actual people are behind each and every statistic. People lose income, suffer terrible physical pain, give up activities they once loved, lose the ability to generate income, and in the worst cases, lose a loved one forever.

I recently had the chance to converse with a lady via an online forum who had a serious forklift injury to her leg. She just happened to be in a lawsuit with the manufacturer, and even though I did not agree 100% with her position, my heart certainly went out to her for the severity of the injury she received and what she was going through in her personal life. I think it is important to everyone involved in forklift safety to let things get through our outer layer once in a while and feel the pain, so that we don’t become callous to the real effects of what we are trying to prevent.

Written by Brian Colburn of Forklift Training Systems, a leading provider of forklift safety training and materials. Forklift Training Systems can be contacted at 614-583-5749 or at Visit them on the web at