Every year, thousands of workers are injured in workplace accidents involving forklifts. OSHA statistics indicate that there are roughly 110,000 major forklift accidents every year. 85 of these result in forklift fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries each year. 1 in 5 accidents is a forklift striking or crushing a pedestrian.

Authorities say a worker was killed when he was accidentally run over by a forklift at a local business on Wednesday. The 61-year-old had been crushed beneath the forks of a forklift that was carrying a large hopper filled with concrete. Police say that it appeared as though the man walked into the path of the forklift and the operator was unable to see him. He was pronounced dead at the scene

Unfortunately common, these incidents result from many factors. Human error is frequent and happens to everyone but the consequences for those mistakes escalate greatly when a forklift is involved. There is responsibility for the driver as well as the pedestrian on foot to ensure safety for themselves and those around.

Factors for Driver’s Mistakes

  1. Lack of visibility
  2. Reckless driving
  3. Ignoring rules
  4. High speeds
  5. Not sounding a horn at turns 

Factors for Pedestrian’s Mistakes

  1. Lack of visibility
  2. Distracted walking
  3. Ignoring rules
  4. Moving too quickly
  5. Getting too close to forklift

All of these factors can be curtailed with one important change. Separate pedestrian and forklift traffic where possible.  

 

Separate pedestrians and forklifts

Obvious but essential. Demarcation in the form of railings or protective barriers prevent pedestrian and mechanical traffic from intersecting unnecessarily. Safe walking area and designated machinery aisles enhance productivity, minimize risk, and limit liability. 

However, sometimes a pedestrian will need to cross or enter an aisle. It’s simply a reality of the workplace. The important thing is to control the situation to ensure this crossing is done in a safe way. 

 

Provide gates to serve as mental cues wherever pedestrians and forklifts might cross paths

There is a reason we have crosswalks along busy streets. The place serves as a cue to remind pedestrians to pay attention to their surroundings and cross safely. Likewise, cars know when and where to expect pedestrian crossing.

Similarly, in a modern, fast-paced workplace it is important to provide cues for safe habits. A gate separating pedestrians from forklift aisles provides the same cue to the pedestrian to stop and take stock of their surroundings rather than walking straight into the danger of an oncoming forklift. Drivers can anticipate where pedestrian crossings will take place. The safety gate, this simple piece of equipment, immediately reduces a facility’s chance of expensive accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.  

Many forklift accidents occur when someone is walking and looking instead of scanning their surroundings. A Self closing gate placed at the edge of aisles reinforce a designated crossing point and forces the walker to look up, and view their surroundings before walking through.