The Top 5 Ways to Prevent Pedestrian Forklift Accidents
There is a lot that can go wrong in any workplace, but especially so when heavy machinery is present. Forklifts are large, heavy pieces of equipment that come with plenty of hazards. According to the CDC, 20% of victims who have died in a forklift accident were workers on foot who were struck by a forklift.
If you’re a forklift operator, you no doubt had to undergo training before you could get behind the wheel. However, it isn’t just your own safety that you need to watch for. You also need to account for on-foot workers because as the driver, it is your responsibility to avoid pedestrians.
1. Separate the Pedestrian and Forklift Traffic
As a forklift operator, it’s smart to assume that pedestrians aren’t watching where you are and aren’t thinking about whether they’re crossing in your path. Employees on foot may not be paying attention, even if there are markers and warning signs. Therefore, it is helpful to create a separation between pedestrians and forklifts as much as possible, and limit some aisles to workers-only and forklifts-only to avoid a collision.
2. Limit Use of Forklifts Near Common Pedestrian Areas
It makes sense but many forklift operators fail to recognize busy worker areas and avoid common social areas. These include time clocks, break rooms, cafeterias, restrooms, and main exits, especially when foot traffic is at its peak, like right before and after lunch.
3. Carefully Maneuver Blind Spots and Corners
Forklift operators need to be extremely cautious near blind corners, doorways, and narrow aisles and should do everything they can to alert pedestrians. Operators should use flashing lights, horns, and backup alarms when driving around these various hazards. Employers should also take into account whether overhead dome mirrors would improve operator and pedestrian visibility if placed at risky locations.
4. Install Appropriate Barriers to Isolate Workstations from Forklift Areas
Obviously, you wouldn’t want to install a physical barrier around a corner, but incorporating them where practical, such as aisles traveled by forklifts, is a great way to physically block pedestrian workstations from forklifts. Installing barriers can protect pedestrians without requiring them to be consistently concerned over their safety.
5. Ensure the Area is Well Lit and Free of Obstacles
Improving the visibility of a workplace is crucial to preventing pedestrian accidents. Make sure that the work area is well lit and that workers are wearing high-visibility, reflective clothing. Also, inspect the environment and make sure there are no obstructions before beginning work on a forklift. Striking an object can cause it to collapse and crush a worker on foot, or cause the forklift to tip over and fatally injure a pedestrian.
What Can Pedestrians do to Prevent Accidents?
Forklift operators aren’t the only ones who can prevent pedestrian accidents. Pedestrians should keep a safe distance from forklifts whenever possible, let the driver know they are in an area by making eye-contact, and avoid walking near or under raised forks.
To prepare all of your workers, operators and pedestrians alike, make sure everyone completes their OSHA-compliant forklift certification from ForkliftCertification.com.