Why Do You Need to Plan for Forklift Pedestrian Safety?

forklift pedestrian safety includes warehouse workers

Your business needs to plan for forklift pedestrian safety if it employs forklift operators. Pedestrians are frequently active near forklifts. If your forklift operators fail to account for pedestrians, they risk exposing them to hazards that can lead to accidents, property damage, and hefty OSHA fines. Worst of all, a forklift accident can cause a pedestrian injury or fatality.

Enrolling your workers in forklift certification training offers an excellent starting point to improve forklift and pedestrian safety. The training enables workers to learn the proper use and maintenance of forklifts. It also teaches workers how to keep themselves and pedestrians safe against workplace dangers.

Why Is Forklift Pedestrian Safety Important?

Forklifts are essential tools regularly used in warehouses, dockyards, construction sites, and distribution centers throughout the country. However, forklifts are not without their share of dangers. When handled by inexperienced or poorly trained drivers, forklifts can endanger pedestrian workers and onlookers, putting them at risk of serious bodily injuries. Therefore, OSHA forklift pedestrian safety protocols must be strictly followed and properly executed to prevent accidents.

When multiple workers and pieces of heavy equipment are moving about the workplace, forklift traffic and pedestrian safety are issues that go hand in hand. That’s why both employers and their workers must learn about forklift pedestrian safety and what can be done to avoid hazards that put pedestrians and operators at risk.

An excellent first step is implementing and clearly delineating visible OSHA-required pedestrian walkways. These walkways ensure pedestrians always have a safe path for getting from point A to point B. Forklift operators avoid these walkways, reducing the risk of a pedestrian forklift accident.

OSHA fines businesses that ignore forklift pedestrian safety protocols. OSHA regulations protect forklift operators and pedestrians in the workplace. The forklift safety guidelines apply to all employers across the United States with forklifts in their premises. Failure to comply with these guidelines can cost a business thousands of dollars. In addition, if a business does not comply with OSHA safety guidelines and a pedestrian accident occurs, the company could also face legal ramifications.

Take time to educate your lift operators about forklift pedestrian safety. This empowers these operators to come forward with any pedestrian safety questions or concerns. Your forklift operators will also gain the insights needed to identify and address forklift pedestrian safety hazards consistently.

safety tips for forklifts and pedestrians in warehouses
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Among the most important aspects of forklift safety in the workplace are navigating traffic, managing pedestrian walkways, and making it perfectly clear to all concerned that pedestrians have the right of way every time. Forklift safety measures are divided into two categories:

1. Regular Forklift Traffic

Systems and standards establish how forklift traffic is routed through dockyards, warehouses, distribution centers, and similar workplaces.

2. Pedestrian Traffic

This involves the routing of people on foot who need to occasionally enter a primarily industrial environment, where OSHA’s forklift pedestrian safety regulations and FLC’s training programs come into play.

Fatalities and injuries can happen with both types of traffic if rules and guidelines aren’t in place and strictly enforced. OSHA forklift and pedestrian safety requirements, which are described in more detail below, exist to protect both operators and pedestrians.


OSHA guideline  29 CFR 1910.176 (a) requires pedestrian pathways and other walking areas to be clearly marked and free from obstructions at all times, which is particularly important in those areas near regular forklift activity.

OSHA’s powered industrial truck safety guidelines for pedestrian safety around forklifts include common sense thinking. However, basic forklift pedestrian safety suggestions and a few advanced concepts are also involved. Some of the OSHA safety standards for forklift operators include:

  • Drivers always yield the right of way to pedestrians
  • Using the horn and safety signals when approaching blind intersections
  • Stopping and waiting for pedestrians who are crossing the operator’s planned route
  • Being alert to situations that require a spotter and using a spotter whenever necessary
  • Warning pedestrians and asking them to move to create a safe distance 
  • Proceeding cautiously and slowly through areas with high pedestrian traffic volume
  • Prohibit anyone from standing or walking near an elevated load
  • Ensure all workers receive forklift and pedestrian safety training, so they easily recognize hazards
  • Slow down, stop and sound the horn when at intersections, blind corners, entering or exiting buildings, and whenever the operator’s field of view is obstructed
  • Using warning lights and backup alarms when the lift is traveling in reverse
  • Not moving the forklift until there’s a clear view
  • Using a spotter at blind intersections
  • Always looking in the direction of travel
  • Signaling pedestrians to stand clear
  • Making direct eye contact with pedestrian traffic
  • Never be distracted by using a cell phone or reading when operating a forklift

It’s essential to have each of your operators trained to be familiar with the latest OSHA forklift pedestrian safety guidelines, which is where ForkliftCertification.com can help. We can have your forklift operators trained and OSHA-compliant in about an hour. In addition, our training lets these operators immediately download and print their certification cards after completing the required coursework.


According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, approximately 20% of all forklift accidents in the workplace involve someone on foot being hit by a forklift. Therefore, forklift and pedestrian safety is essential for your workplace. The most common causes of accidents involving pedestrians being struck by forklifts are carelessness and a lack of training for one or both parties. With FLC’s OSHA-compliant training packages, your employees will have the safety knowledge and skills needed to avoid accidents and injuries.


Can pedestrians be kept away from the worksite?

Your company can use fences and other temporary barriers to prevent pedestrians from entering a worksite. Also, it is recommended that you use signage to warn pedestrians that forklifts are present.

Despite your best efforts, there is no guarantee that you can keep pedestrians away from every worksite at all times. But, thanks to forklift certification training, forklift operators will know exactly what to do to guard against pedestrian accidents.

Who has the right of way, the pedestrian or the forklift?

Pedestrians always have the right of way.

Forklift operators must account for pedestrians at all times. Otherwise, if a forklift operator gets distracted or ignores a pedestrian, this error could lead to a pedestrian forklift accident or injury.

If a forklift operator sees a pedestrian, it is critical to slow down immediately. Also, the operator can honk the lift’s horn or activate its warning lights as needed; to alert the pedestrian that a forklift is approaching.

In addition to knowing how to handle work areas when pedestrians are present, a forklift operator must know how to navigate intersections, blind spots, and doorways. If an operator travels cautiously, he or she can alert pedestrians before a pedestrian forklift accident or injury occurs.

What is the pedestrian exclusion zone around a forklift?

There are two forms of exclusion zones for forklift pedestrian safety. First, the job site can mark areas and lanes where forklifts operate. Painted walkways, hazard cones, or barriers can be used to mark these areas, alerting pedestrians to the need for greater caution when in these zones at all times.

The second type of pedestrian exclusion zone is one the forklift carries with it at all times. All workers should imagine a radius around the forklift as an exclusion zone. A three-meter exclusion zone is safe for small lifts but must be expanded for larger lifts. This zone must be respected at all times when the forklift is not parked and turned off. Before approaching a forklift driver and entering the pedestrian exclusion zone, eye contact and either hand signals or verbal commands are a must.


When it comes to forklift pedestrian safety, all visitors should be accounted for immediately upon arrival. Pedestrian visitors might include office staff and other employees of a business, salespeople, delivery people, and others who may come into a warehouse or storage yard on an occasional or a daily basis. Although nothing requires the visitors to be trained to work around forklifts and other heavy equipment, they should be familiar with forklift and pedestrian safety rules to help protect them from being injured.

Most forklifts have limited visibility, especially since there can be blind spots and corners in a warehouse or construction yard. Increasing the danger, most pedestrians don’t realize that forklifts can be hard to hear, and it can be difficult to tell where they are. This is especially true for quiet, battery-powered forklifts, so it’s up to the forklift driver and safety supervisors to clearly mark OSHA-required pedestrian walkways and other areas that are safe to walk. Pedestrians must stay within the designated walkways.

Forklift and pedestrian safety education is essential for teaching both equipment operators and visiting pedestrians how to safely work around each other to avoid accidents and prevent injuries.

Safety Protocols for Pedestrians in the Workplace Include:

If you employ forklift operators, there are several protocols your workers need to follow as pedestrians encountering forklifts. These protocols include:

 Understanding that forklifts can’t stop suddenly

 Staying well clear of forklifts in operation

 Being aware that forklifts have wide rear swing radiuses

 Always using designated pedestrian walkways

 Never being onboard a forklift unless it’s designed to carry riders

 Never walking or standing beneath an elevated load

 Becoming familiar with all OSHA forklift pedestrian safety standards

Forklift safety training is crucial. With this training, your forklift operators can learn how to keep themselves and others safe at any worksite, at any time.

Get your operators up to speed on forklift pedestrian safety regulations with our OSHA-compliant forklift training courses. Designed by our knowledgeable team of OSHA experts, each of FLC’s training modules gives students a thorough review of all facets of safely operating powered industrial truck operation, including forklift pedestrian safety considerations.

We offer three training programs designed specifically to comply with OSHA’s training requirements: our Train The TrainerTraining Kit and our popular Bundle and Save Package. FLC has the needed forklift and pedestrian safety training you need that meets or exceeds OSHA’s forklift and pedestrian safety requirements.

If you still have questions about forklift traffic safety or OSHA-compliant forklift training, call us at (888) 278-8896Enroll your operators today for a safer workplace – you’ll be glad you did!