A Home Depot employee died in a forklift accident early Tuesday morning, according to Virginia police.
Shortly after midnight, Paul Gato, 43, was using the lift to unload supplies from a delivery truck at a Fairfax, Virginia, Home Depot, when, “The driver of the delivery truck heard the loud crash, noticed the deceased under the forklift and immediately summoned emergency medical services and police," Fairfax County police said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr Gato was pronounced dead at the scene, and police said there is no current indication of criminal activity. An autopsy is underway to determine the precise cause of death.
"Paul was a happy, friendly and caring person who was always there when someone needed a hand," a Home Depot company spokesperson told NBC News in a statement on Tuesday. "We’re heartbroken by the loss of our friend and fellow associate of nine years, and his family is in our prayers."
This year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has investigated 15 deaths involved forklifts across at least 10 states.
Operating heavy machinery like forklifts is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in America, according to a 2020 analysis by USA Today. Compiling Bureau of Labour Statistics data, the paper found a fatality rate of 6.8 people per 100,000 workers among industrial truck and tractor operators, making it the 25th riskiest career path nationally.For those who do operate such machinery, risks include collisions, overexertions, trips and falls, as well as unintentional contact with other objects or pieces of equipment.