Forklift truck is a big heavy piece of equipment, weighing as much as four average family cars or even more, and therefore any incident with a pedestrian may cause serious injury or can be fatal. In UK, about 25% of all workplace accidents involving a visit to a hospital are due to forklift truck accidents.
Everybody working within the vicinity of a forklift truck needs to understand the hazards and must receive appropriate training. Forklifts can tip over easily and cannot stop quickly after braking. Also forks, mast and heavy loads can reduce visibility of the forklift driver.
When turning, the back of the forklift truck swings over and may hit a pedestrian, if they are too close. Forklift trucks often operate in a noisy environment and there is danger that the pedestrian or the forklift driver may not hear each other. Forklift trucks are most commonly used in warehouses and storage facilities where there are often many pedestrians and hence it is vital that the forklift trucks and pedestrians are kept separate.
By creating driving paths for forklift trucks and walkways for pedestrians you can keep them apart, although there are areas where this may not be possible. Keeping forklift trucks and pedestrians separate can be achieved by using symbols and different coloured lines on the floor. For example, use yellow for forklift truck path and green for footpaths, white lines for storage locations and red for fire extinguishers or emergency doors that must always be accessible. For high use areas, use of physical barriers may be advisable.
It is never possible to avoid pedestrians crossing the forklift path entirely. To make it safer, create pedestrian crossings with the symbols on the floor and appropriate signs advising forklift drivers to slow down. Also think of gates that prevent pedestrians to cross without thinking. Another danger area is the doorway from one hall to another which can be a bottleneck and the views on the other side can be limited. It is advisable to have a separate door for the pedestrians, if possible with a fence to guide them to the door. It should be further away from the door access for the forklift truck to prevent pedestrians taking the easiest route.
There are number of other devices available to warn of approaching forklift trucks like sirens and LED lights that projects red lines on the floor to be avoided by pedestrians. Click here to read our blog on Safety Lighting for Forklift Trucks. Warning signs and mirrors to see around the corner need to be placed at hazardous area such as blind corners.
The safety rules implemented must be followed by everyone including the supervisors, management and visitors. The senior staff should lead by example.
It is very important to segregate the pedestrians and forklift trucks wherever possible for the safety of all personnel. An accident would cause severe disruption to productivity, injury to staff and could be costly for the company.
Wallace School of Transport including Forklift Training in London is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years' experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.