When we talk about road safety, we consider pedestrians as a vulnerable class who are more prone to road accidents. But what about pedestrians in warehouses and plants? Are they safe?
I want to draw your attention to the following video. Can you identify what went wrong?
This is a clear case of a pedestrian accident caused by a heavy industrial vehicle, a forklift.
Pedestrians vs Forklifts
In any warehouse or plant setting, pedestrians are employees who are not forklift operators. Still, they work in the vicinity of the forklifts and may at times cross paths with these heavy industrial vehicles. Since the employees work in such a hazardous environment surrounded by dangerous equipment, pedestrian safety becomes a priority. But what makes forklifts such a threat to pedestrians?
The risk of pedestrians being crushed by forklifts, being hit by their forks, or getting injured by falling loads is high without proper forklift safety. If appropriate safety measures are not in place, pedestrians will continue to be exposed to such dangers.
The cause of these accidents can be attributed to a number of factors, such as lack of training, inattention, and the inability to follow forklift safety procedures (by both forklift operators and pedestrians), among others. In an organizational framework, the workers, pedestrians, and forklift operators need to work in cohesion to improve pedestrian safety and forklift safety.
Steps to Improve Pedestrian Safety
Do you work in a warehouse and are in regular contact with forklifts? Or are you a plant manager who is responsible for managing the forklift fleet? Whatever your position is, the following points will help you to drastically reduce the instances of pedestrian accidents and mitigate pedestrian safety risks.
Training for both pedestrians and forklift operators lays the groundwork for wholesome and effective pedestrian safety. OSHA has revealed that approximately 70% of forklift accidents could be prevented with proper training. Such training ensures that everybody is well-equipped and aware of the necessary forklift policy and procedures. Operators and pedestrians will be taught respective sets of safe behaviors to safeguard their own lives and the property of the organization. Refresher courses should be conducted at regular intervals as a measure to assure that pedestrians and operators are consciously aware of how to work safely with each other.
- Proper Communication
Communication is key when navigating this sensitive issue of forklift pedestrian safety. Proper means and channels of communication like hand signals must be established for the effective relaying of messages between pedestrians and forklift operators. Hand signals may be used by pedestrians to clearly denote the direction they are working towards or operators may use to same to signify any turn the forklift is about to take. Other forms of communication such as making direct eye contact or verbally alerting operators about the pedestrians’ presence are also encouraged, especially near blind corners or when a pedestrian is standing behind a forklift.
When working in dangerous environments such as plants and warehouses, paying your full attention to the task at hand is of utmost importance. You should always be alert and aware of your surroundings. To avoid falling victim to forklift accidents, it is necessary to minimize distractions. Pedestrians should refrain from diverting their attention by using their phones or reading some paperwork as it increases the chances of them missing any oncoming forklift. At the other end of the equation, forklift operators should likewise administer utmost caution and attention to ensure that they follow the proper forklift safety measures and do not indulge in unsafe behaviors such as overspeeding, cutting corners, etc.
- Design of the Structure
You might think that the architecture of any warehouse or plant is unrelated to warehouse forklift safety but that is a misconception. The layout of a workplace is a huge determinant of pedestrian safety. Lack of explicitly marked driving avenues, unclean floors, and obstructions in the pathway of forklifts can all pose a severe threat to the lives of everyone involved. The design of the warehouse or plant must also have separate aisles for forklifts using items such as barriers as it clearly distinguishes the path of travel for pedestrians and forklift operators and provides an efficient way of managing forklift traffic. Audits can be conducted to optimize the workplace for better visibility and to get rid of any blind spots.
- Safety Equipment and Maintenance of Forklifts
Pedestrians can wear neon-colored vests along with helmets and safety shoes. These steps will help them increase their visibility and minimize injuries if any. Additionally, cameras, mirrors, and sensors can also be placed strategically at intersections or on the body of the forklift itself to raise alarms to warn pedestrians and operators alike of each others’ presence.
Proper maintenance of forklifts is also a key element in warehouse forklift safety. The proper condition of forklifts means lesser accidents as it reduces the possibility of accidents arising from brake failure, forks malfunctioning, etc.
Thus, with adequate measures, any company can achieve pedestrian safety. Collaborative efforts from both pedestrians and forklift operators will ascertain that they fulfill the obligation they have towards each other to keep themselves and other people safe.
SafetyConnect: A Stepping Stone toward Forklift Safety
SafetyConnect’s Forklift Safety Solution analyzes the risky driving behavior of forklift operators in order to curb pedestrian and other forklift accidents. Other features such as identifying accident hotspots and tracking the location of the forklifts add to the enhanced safety of everybody working in the plant or warehouse, pedestrians and operators alike.
You can schedule a demo here.