Whether or not your company has a pedestrian safety program, you – as a pedestrian – should be aware of some basic safety procedures to make sure you stay safe. After all, 20 percent of forklift incidents involve pedestrians being struck by a forklift and no one wants that to happen to them. So keep these simple tips in mind to stay safer around forklift operation.
1. BE AWARE
We can’t recommend this enough because pedestrians can easily cause a forklift incident simply by not paying attention. Be aware of your surroundings. It’s vital to staying safe when you’re working or walking near forklift operation. Here are a few of the most important things to keep in mind:
- Forklifts are designed to stop slowly to minimize load damage and maintain stability. If you’re in their way, they can’t stop suddenly to avoid hitting you so make sure you stay out of their way.
- Forklifts have a wider swing radius than you’d expect. In contrast to cars, when forklifts turn, the back end swings out. Keep well clear of forklifts turning - including while they’re in reverse.
- The operator’s visibility can easily be obstructed by the load and blind spots in the facility. Never assume that the operator can see you. Look for hand signals and eye contact from the operator when you’re near a forklift.
2. STICK TO PEDESTRIAN WALKWAYS
Pedestrian walkways are there for your safety. Ideally, there will be physical barriers to further separate you and the forklifts, but when there aren’t, stay well inside the designated walkway. If you must approach a forklift in operation, maintain at least 4 feet of distance.
3. NEVER WALK UNDER THE FORKS OR AN ELEVATED LOAD
Walking under the forks (whether they have a load on them or not) is extremely dangerous. Falling loads can easily cause a fatal injury so stay away from the potential path of a falling load. It isn’t just loads that represent danger. Even without a load on the forks the lifting mechanism - which controls the forks - can fail with you underneath. Meaning the forks can fall on top of you, potentially causing a fatal injury.
4. DON’T RIDE ON FORKLIFTS
Unless the forklift is specifically designed for riders and you have explicit authorization you should not ride on a forklift. That includes standing on the forks. Forklifts are not designed to lift people and even when you’re using an approved lifting cage that’s securely attached to the forks, there is inherent danger to you.
Following these basic reminders will help you stay safer when you’re around forklifts. For more ways to avoid an incidents with a forklift, read: The Complete Guide to Forklift Operator & Pedestrian Safety Training.