Shockingly, there are over 100 deaths that are directly linked to this type of Material Handling Equipment every year. Although forklifts are the cause of just one percent of total industrial accidents, they are responsible for ten percent of all injuries. What can we, as companies within the MHE industry, do to ensure safety for those not operating forklifts?
To quote Jeff Rufener, the National Forklift Safety Day Chairman and President of Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., “National Forklift Safety Day is an opportunity for forklift manufacturers, dealers and operators to come together with a common goal. By reinforcing some basic safety procedures such as operator training and daily equipment checks, we can greatly reduce accidents and overall downtime.”
Here are three basic points your warehouse can follow to protect those working in your facilities.
Alertness for drivers and pedestrians is key
By upgrading your workplace with better lighting, both drivers and pedestrians will be more aware of their surroundings. This is an easy fix. Some places you might want to think about improving lighting would be rack aisles, access points that both parties use and longer passages that go between buildings.
Solely depending on proper lighting is not the only focus you should have, though. Make sure everyone is wearing appropriate, high-visibility safety apparel. The wearer should be able to be seen from all sides.
Clutter should also be kept under control so vehicles won’t feel the need to maneuver around obstacles and possibly swerve into pedestrian walkways.
Simply providing your workers with the correct clothing and keeping the facility well-lit and clutter-free will significantly cut down on workplace accidents.
Barriers to ensure safe passage
Marked areas for machine traffic and foot traffic are a smart way to keep everyone in the warehouse safe. There are several different levels of caution to take when considering forklift and pedestrian barriers.
In areas of your facility that are not high-danger, providing traffic lines with floor tape is a great way to protect everyone. Unfortunately, since it’s not a physical barrier, workers might not heed the distinction.
For high-danger and high-traffic areas in your facility, consider installing guardrail barriers for general traffic, as well as gates at crossing points.
By having separate sections designated for machines and people, you can guarantee greater protection for everyone.
Education is everyone’s responsibility, not just forklift operators
Even employees that aren’t operating a forklift need to be trained, not only on the dangers of these heavy machines, but also on how they function.
Forklift drivers have limited visibility. Pedestrians should not assume that the driver sees them, so it’s important to make eye contact with the driver whenever possible.
Should any sudden movement of the machinery take place, distance from the forklift is key. Forklifts are not able to stop as quickly as a car could.
It’s important to note, too, that electronic forklifts are silent. Even internal combustion forklifts can take somebody by surprise if the warehouse is very noisy.
Ensure a safe work environment for all
By educating pedestrians on safety and correct behavior around these machines, you can reduce the possibility of accidents and injuries. Safety should be a concern every day, not just National Forklift Safety Day.