Pedestrians are involved in about 40% of all forklift accidents. There are many reasons for this, but one is – we have told pedestrians most of their lives that they have the right of way!
Not a smart thing to do, because you can be dead right. If you are going to train your operators, you should also be training the pedestrians that walk in the same areas where forklifts are traveling.
A forklift operator should yield the right of way to pedestrians. This is an OSHA recommendations that all forklift drivers should be aware of. Because of the size of the forklift – and basically because it is a steel club on one end and spears on the other – horrible crushing injuries can occur. Forklift operators should stop and wait for pedestrians to clear the area before proceeding along their route with caution.
Be sure to stop, honk the horn, and proceed cautiously at intersections to warn pedestrians of the forklift’s presence. This is an OSHA requirement. When vision is impaired, be sure to use a spotter and travel in reverse if a load is blocking forward visibility.
Pedestrians should never assume that a forklift operator sees them. While pedestrians have the right of way in forklift operating areas, that doesn’t mean an operator always sees them. A pedestrian should keep his or her eyes on a moving forklift whenever in its vicinity.
As a pedestrian, you have to look out for your own safety as much as a forklift operator hs to look out for you.
Operators and pedestrians should use hand signals for communication. Be aware that “STOP” can be communicated many ways by hand, so instruct all on which hand signals to use.
If you have a question on this or any topic related to safety with your forklift, give our resident expert, Dave Bennet, a call or fill out the request form.