A shocking 20 percent of forklift incidents involve pedestrians being struck by a forklift. These accidents can be caused by any number of reasons.
One of the most common causes is operators not following proper safety practices. While pedestrians must take responsibility for their own safety in the workplace, operators consistently hold their coworkers lives in their hands.
Here are our top suggestions to operators on keeping pedestrians safe.
1. STOP & SOUND HORN AT INTERSECTIONS & CORNERS
If you can’t see around the corner, chances are any pedestrians on the other side can’t see you either. Sound the horn to alert any pedestrians in the area of your presence.
2. WHEN TRAVELING IN REVERSE, USE FLASHING LIGHTS OR BACKUP ALARMS
Pedestrians can’t always anticipate your next move. They might not be paying attention when you switch to reverse so let them know with flashing lights or back up alarms.
If your forklift isn’t equipped safety lights or alarms, verbally warn pedestrians of your intent to back-up.
3. USE A SPOTTER FOR BLIND SPOTS
While using a spotter may not always be possible due to staffing issues, it’s the best way to navigate blind spots. If using a spotter isn’t possible for you, convex or curved mirrors can help you maneuver through the area.
4. LOOK IN THE DIRECTION OF TRAVEL
Although it may be a pain to twist in your seat to see behind you when travelling backward which can be a pain, you should always look in your direction of travel.
5. KEEP A CLEAR VIEW
It sounds simple, but your view can easily be obstructed by your load, corners or intersections. Take care keep your view as clear as possible by lowering your load as much as you can and travelling slowly through corners and intersections.
6. SIGNAL TO PEDESTRIANS TO STAND CLEAR
Don’t hesitate to communicate clearly with pedestrians along your path. Signal for them to move aside if they’re in a dangerous position.
7. DON'T ALLOW ANYONE TO STAND OR PASS UNDER THE LOAD OR LIFTING MECHANISM
Falling loads are a major concern for pedestrians and operators. Never allow someone to walk underneath your load or the forks.
Even without a load, the lifting mechanism for the forks can malfunction causing the forks to fall. If a pedestrian is underneath your forks at the time, they could sustain a fatal injury.
8. MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH PEDESTRIANS AND OTHER FORKLIFT OPERATORS
Eye contact with others along your route indicates that you see them and acknowledge their presence. When you fail to make eye contact, pedestrians and other operators can’t be sure that you’ve seen them which can cause problems.
9. NEVER CARRY PEOPLE ON THE FORKS
Even with approved lifting cages, lifting personnel with a forklift is extremely dangerous. We recommend you use an aerial lift to lift personnel whenever possible. Regardless, you should never lift someone directly on the forks.
10. IN AREAS WITH LOTS OF CLUTTER, WALK THE ROUTE FIRST TO SPOT POTENTIAL PROBLEM AREAS
Clutter on the floor can be a slipping or tripping hazard for pedestrians and running over clutter with your forklift is never a good idea. Pick up small pieces as you walk along the route to prevent an incident.
11. STOP AND WAIT FOR PEDESTRIANS, THE PROCEED CAUTIOUSLY THROUGH CONGESTED AREAS
Some areas of the facility will naturally have more foot-traffic than others. Be aware of these areas and give pedestrians the right-of-way.
OUR #1 RECOMMENDATION
Just being aware of possible hazards on your route will help you maintain safety procedures while operating the forklift. Our biggest recommendation is to communicate clearly with pedestrians in the area. Something as simple eye contact or signaling to someone can make all the difference.
Read up on forklift operator and pedestrian safety training in our complete guide.