Forklift Safety: Who Has the Right of Way?

forklift pedestrian safety

Every warehouse has “red zones” that put your forklift operator and pedestrians at risk. Keep up safety awareness with training. SCHEDULE TRAINING

With a weak economy and consumer confidence low, companies are closely watching revenue and profit margins. The few companies that are experiencing growth are holding off on non-essential costs such as building expansions or moving to larger facilities.

Forklift Pedestrian Safety

More work is being accomplished in tighter areas – that means forklifts and pedestrians are in closer proximity.

This is an increasing problem with dire consequences. Statistically, a forklift operator is more likely to kill a co-worker than themselves in an accident (NIOSH Statistics). This statement makes sense when you consider the scenario: A forklift operator is sitting on an average-sized machine (9,000 lbs) inside a sturdy metal cage and carries a heavy load at top speeds of 6-12 mph. The pedestrian is unprotected and vulnerable.

Forklift Pedestrian Right of Way

OSHA states the pedestrian has the right of way; therefore, operators must be on constant alert. The forklift operator is required to slow down and sound their horn at doorways, intersections, blind spots and when entering or exiting a building. Approaching a pedestrian requires the operator to slow down and sound the horn. If the attention of the pedestrian is not achieved, the operator should stop the forklift.

Technology has increased the safety risk. The use of blue tooth phone devices and MP3 players with ear buds drown out the sound of an approaching forklift. The popularity of cell phone texting also reduces the awareness of both operators and pedestrians.

Red Zones in Your Facility

A warehouse has various “Red Zones” that involve pedestrians and forklifts. These include an elevated load, which allows a pedestrian to walk underneath. A pedestrian may also walk onto the dock or into a trailer while the forklift operator is loading or unloading product. The use of a forklift with a racking system offers a plethora of hazards such as blinds spots and falling loads.

Creating a Safer Work Enviroment

To create a safer working environment for pedestrians, your company might consider:

  • Overhead & rear view mirrors
  • Alarms & flashing beacons
  • Marked walkways
  • Restricted access areas
  • Designated forklift traffic lanes
  • Hand rails to limit access to risk areas
  • Use of man doors instead of overhead doors

Nothing takes the place of educating both the forklift operator and the pedestrian about the risks of working in a warehouse – for example, pedestrians rarely understand a typical warehouse forklift weighs as much as three empty automobiles and this does not include the weight of the load.

Completing a walk-around of the company warehouse allows the opportunity to find hazards and create solutions to reduce the chance of a forklift and pedestrian accident. It is also an outward sign to employees that the company is committed to the greater good of a safer work environment.

Do you have employees in need of forklift safety training or pedestrian awareness? Contact our Safety Specialist to discuss available training and dates.

Contact Safety Specialist

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