FLTA – When Lisa Ramos arrived for work on Friday 24th March 2006 it was a day much like any other. Except it was her son’s 13th birthday… and the day her life was to change forever. But not just her own life. Things would never be the same for her son, partner, parents, relatives, co-workers… everyone who knows her.
She was run over by a forklift truck and lost her leg in an accident that was as horrific as it was avoidable.
You can hear her story and obtain a wealth of free safety guidance and resources as part of Safetember the Fork Lift Truck Association’s National Fork Lift Safety Month by visiting fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/safetember.
As an administrator at NYK Logistics in Findern, Derbyshire, Lisa’s job was to check that every pallet was loaded with the correct contents. Just minutes from the end of her shift she was heading along a prescribed walkway near the container bays, finishing her checks for the day. The next thing she knew she’d been knocked to the floor and a 3-ton fork lift truck was crushing her leg.
The operator of the truck had no idea he’d hit someone but Lisa’s screams jolted him into action. Tragically, as he moved the truck forwards, it literally tore the skin and fat from Lisa’s leg…
By now her co-workers had rushed to Lisa’s side. Each time she tried to sit up she was gently coaxed back down as they strived to keep her comfortable and prevent her seeing the extent of the damage.
They reassured her she’d only dislocated her knee and she recalls thinking “I mustn’t cry or the lads will give me so much grief when I get back to work on Monday!”
“I couldn’t see why everyone was making such a fuss and didn’t understand why my partner Dave was crying. At that moment my biggest worry was that we’d have to cancel my son’s birthday party.”
At the time of the accident, she was on a taped-off walkway on the floor: a route she always followed. Even as she did so, she was conscious that it never seemed sufficient.
“When you’re on the same level as the forklifts, a taped-off area doesn’t really give you clear separation,” she explains. “There’s a good reason why we have kerbs and pavements by the sides of roads — we don’t rely on just a painted line to keep them away from pedestrians”.
After many operations, Lisa has lost almost all of her leg. What’s more, she continues to suffer excruciating phantom limb pain in the part of the leg that is no longer hers.
It took years of therapy to help her accept herself as an ‘amputee’, and to get to the place she’s in now… a Safety Ambassador for the Fork Lift Truck Association and a passionate advocate for workplace safety.
FLTA Chief Executive Peter Harvey says: “It is because of Lisa’s experiences and those of the many hundreds who are killed or seriously injured each year by forklifts that the FLTA mounts its annual Safetember campaign…
“It serves as a focal point for everyone who manages, operates or works alongside a forklift – creating a moment were each can reflect on how they can make their workplace safer.
“Because no one walks away, unscathed, from a fork lift accident.
To find out more about National Fork Lift Safety Month – Safetember- visit http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/safetember.