Keeping pedestrians safe around forklifts
Maintaining pedestrian safety around forklifts is crucial on any worksite in order to prevent injury and death.
Injuries that result from pedestrians being struck by a forklift are common, with WorkCover Queensland accepting an average of 430 workers compensation claims every year since 2012.
In one recent industrial workplace incident on the Gold Coast in May, a worker sustained serious leg and shoulder injuries after a forklift struck him while it was reversing.
Injured workers have often taken five days or more away from work to recover.
Due to the fact that forklifts carry heavy, large items, they are dangerous even when they are moving slowly.
Below are some tips on how to maintain pedestrian safety around forklifts.
Move forklifts to another area
Separating forklifts from pedestrians is the quickest, easiest and most obvious way to stop collisions occurring on site. Pedestrian safety won’t be in danger and forklift-related accidents won’t occur if forklifts and people aren’t mingling.
Thoroughly briefing pedestrian workers and forklift operators as to where they should and shouldn’t operate and making sure everyone complies is the key to this strategy.
Implementing physical boundaries using anything and everything from fencing, traffic islands, railings and even bright tape stuck to the floor is a way to further bolster compliance.
Implement a traffic management plan for forklifts
Because many worksite environments require pedestrians and forklifts to operate in the same space, it will not always be possible to separate them completely.
If this is the case, businesses will need to implement a traffic management plan and be diligent about getting forklift drivers and pedestrians to watch out for each other. Create a communication system between pedestrian workers and forklift operators so that it is always clear who has right of way.
Control how fast forklifts move within the work environment by posting clear and visible signs around the workplace. To motivate compliance with on-site speed limits, create an incentive program for forklift operators.
Lastly, implement speed limiting devices on all forklifts. In a worst-case scenario where operators don’t comply with policies or signage, the speed of their forklifts will still be limited.
Make it easy for pedestrians and forklift operators to see
Accidents will occur if it’s difficult for pedestrians and forklift operators to see each other. To ensure pedestrian safety, clarity of visibility should be a top priority.
If the worksite happens to be a dark one, brighten it up by installing extra lighting wherever needed. Don’t take chances by allowing dark spots anywhere in your worksite. This is where accidents are bound to occur.
If the fencing, railing or tape on the floor that keeps forklifts and pedestrians separated is getting dull and old, replace it. These physical boundaries need to be visible at all times in order to do their job.
Help forklift operators see pedestrian workers by having them all wear high-visibility vests while on site. Also, make sure to have plenty of dome mirrors installed throughout the site so both pedestrians and forklift operators are aware of each other when coming around corners.
Lastly, make sure all forklifts have functional mirrors or vision panels so that forklift operators can see pedestrians in every direction — especially when they are reversing.
Use proximity warning systems
Even with a robust traffic management system, good visibility and a compliant team of employees, accidents can still occur.
After long hours of work, employees can fatigue, become forgetful, absent-minded and increasingly unaware of what’s going on around them.
It is during these times that accidents occur, producing the worst injuries or even deaths. Accidents like these also cause businesses the most damage in terms of reputation, employee morale and fines from safety authorities.
The BodyGuard Pedestrian Safety Warning System warns forklift operators when they are about to hurt someone and gives them a chance to hit the brakes. Implementing a proximity warning system such as this could help save someone from injury or even death.
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