Forklift Safety and Pedestrians
In warehouses, distribution centers and factory floors, Forklifts and people tend to occupy the same busy workspaces. This can be hazardous, for sure, but many workplaces compound the hazards tenfold by incorporating these areas in public spaces like stores and garden centers. On a restricted construction site, workers can be trained and encouraged to follow safety protocols that limit pedestrian accidents, but when forklifts and the public come in contact, the operator must take total responsibility for any issues. This can be easier said than done.
Here are few training and management considerations that increase safety and harmony when pedestrians and forklifts need to share the same space.
Don’t underestimate warning signs.
Warning signs aren’t perfect; they aren’t always read or noticed, and when they are, they aren’t always understood or taken to heart. But that doesn’t mean they should be skipped altogether. Even there’s a slim chance a warning sign will save a life, take that chance. Post the sign. Keep graphics visible, words clear and signs in good repair.
Sounds and lights are critical.
In any populated workplace, require forklift operators to include signal sounds and lights in their pre-flight checks and regular maintenance routines. Any issue with a signal should be dealt with immediately. Signals should be loud, bright and not used unnecessarily. Everyone in the workplace should learn to respect and heed them.
Separate general traffic.
If possible, create two lanes or two distinct traffic areas: One for wheeled equipment and one for people. Walking should take place only in designated areas. If pedestrians need to enter a non-pedestrian traffic zone, they should have a reason to and be encouraged to take accountability for their own safety.
Incorporate pedestrian safety into training programs.
During hands-on training sessions, teach forklift operators to navigate dangerous pedestrian interactions. Make sure they know what to do in the event of an unexpected situation, like a child darting into the truck’s line of travel or a distracted pedestrian stepping into the operator’s blind spot. Conduct drills and teach emergency protocols, including reporting protocols after incidents and accidents.
Operator distractions and pedestrians don’t mix.
Consider operator visibility issues, distractions, blind corners, poor lighting, and other vision or hearing obstructions as threats to pedestrian safety. Take them seriously and address them with the well-being of pedestrians, not just operators, in mind.
Train operators to exercise situational awareness.Operators should know, for example, how many people belong within their sight lines at a given time. If the team involves five people and only four are visible, operators should instinctively account for the fifth pedestrian before backing up the truck, lowering the forks, making a wide turn or conducting any other maneuver that could put a stray pedestrian in danger. Safety and situational awareness should be prioritized above productivity, efficiency, or speed.
- Liftow Ltd.