A common phrase over the last few years has been “keep a safe distance”. This is a phrase that was heard before and will continue to be heard in many industries, predominantly those that rely on material handling equipment. That’s because nearly 75% of ‘impact with a third person events involve pedestrians that were completing tasks unrelated to the immediate truck operation at the time of their accident.
Segregating your operating areas is, of course, best practice, but how should you keep forklifts and pedestrians apart in tricky spaces where it is difficult to install a physical barrier?
Carry Out a Risk Assessment
Firstly, you should carry out a risk assessment of your workspace. This helps you to identify areas that pose a danger, which people need training and if there is a need for additional signage. Take your time and use a safe site checklist to ensure every possible risk is addressed and resolved accordingly to minimise the risk.
Install Designated Walkways
Your employees can’t be expected to stick to your new guidelines if they aren’t 100% sure where they are meant to go when forklifts are being operated. Use signage and painted lines to definitively mark pedestrian routes and crossings.
If you have the space available you could look to assign separate areas for forklift parking and maintenance so that engineers can avoid being in the path of moving machines.
Modify or Replace Your Trucks
Just like improvements in car safety, forklift safety technology has also increased over time. Some of your forklift trucks might only need new lights or add-on features such as proximity sensors to improve safety further. However, some newer machines might already be fitted with technology such as anti-collision systems, blue lights that alert pedestrians, and safety zone lights that are projected around the forklift to create an exclusion zone.
Train and Inform Your Staff
Even if there is limited interaction between an employee and your machinery, it is vital that you provide training to your workforce and inform them of your new safety measures to avoid any life-threatening accidents. Take them through any updated training on keeping a safe distance between forklifts and pedestrians, ensuring each person is fully aware of your new regulations before operating a machine. This will enable forklift drivers to confidently perform their daily duties and pedestrians to interact with operators in the safest manner.
Measures To Consider
Assessing the level of safety when it comes to keeping forklifts and pedestrians apart is a really important task that needs to be prioritised. Here are some measures to consider:
- Traffic management – such as one-way systems to reduce the risk of collisions.
- Site inductions – talking visitors through site layout, safety procedures, and designated routes.
- Timetables – rotation between staff to ensure forklift and pedestrian tasks aren’t being carried out at the same time in one area.
- Strong communication systems – allowing you to give clear and succinct instructions to all members of staff, alerting them when another individual is in their workspace.
- Clear signage – so that there is no confusion as to where pedestrians can carry out their tasks.
- Safe working conditions – establish safe operating distances and provide staff with guidance around forklift operation and the loading and unloading of materials.
If you’d like more advice about maintaining a safe operating environment for operators and employees don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here.