In manufacturing settings with large, open spaces and forklifts, one step in the wrong direction could lead to injury – or worse, a fatality. To prevent these types of workplace accidents, managers should focus on how to restrict pedestrian access to hazardous areas and train all workers about forklift safety.
To maintain a safe work environment that prevents pedestrians from getting injured in a forklift incident, consider these 5 steps.
1. Create clear walkways. The best way to protect pedestrians from forklift injuries is to prohibit pedestrian traffic in forklift areas. Pedestrian walkways above forklift areas can keep foot traffic separate from forklift traffic, but some buildings may not be designed in a way that can accommodate elevated walkways. Guardrails or other permanent physical barriers can help protect pedestrians walking in a designated pedestrian lane. All pedestrian lanes should be clearly outlined in some way – with painted lines or reflectors, for example.
2. Install signs. Forklifts can move quickly, but they’re designed to come to a gradual stop to keep loads from shifting, so a forklift driver may be unable to avoid a pedestrian who suddenly steps into the vehicle’s path. Post speed limit signs in areas where pedestrians may be, and post signs that warn pedestrians when they’re crossing an area forklifts use.
3. Raise awareness. Many warehouses have blind corners at the ends of aisles, which could raise the risk of a forklift striking a pedestrian. Convex mirrors installed at the end of aisles can help people see what’s around the corner. Encourage forklift operators to honk their horns when approaching a walkway or a blind corner and to use the forklift’s flashing light and warning alarm when backing up.
4. Train workers. Assuming pedestrians know to stick to designated areas, there’s no reason they should ever pass underneath a forklift’s raised load. But remind workers not to do that, because many injuries have occurred when a forklift’s load falls onto someone below. And, by all means, strictly prohibit irresponsible driving among your forklift operators. In many industrial settings, most workers aren’t forklift operators, so they may not understand all of the ways forklifts could cause an injury. That’s why it’s important to train the entire staff about how forklift accidents occur.
5. Create a written policy. When forklifts are present, drivers and pedestrians need to be alert. To that end, if you don’t already have a policy on the books prohibiting the use of cell phones in production areas, now would be a good time to create one. Also, make sure you outline the company policy regarding safety throughout the building — specifically outlining forklift safety as a category.
By staying in tune with how well your company is abiding by safety regulations, you could avoid risks to your employees and visitors.