Dangerous situations between forklift and pedestrian, risk factors and options to reduce themCédric Pharand
A forklift is an essential lifting equipment for moving, transporting and transferring more or less heavy loads in a factory or a large storage place. Although essential to speed up work and optimize employee performance, they can be dangerous if there are no specific instructions and limits for their use. Particular consideration must be given to pedestrians coming and going, whose behaviour can sometimes be unpredictable.
Risk factors not to be overlooked
The causes of serious accidents related to the use of a forklift are numerous. At the top of the list, we find the side rollover and the collision of a pedestrian. Be aware that the risk factors are varied and can differ dramatically from one environment to another. There is therefore no typical situation.
This is possible in the event of poor work organization, poor knowledge of the premises, ignorance of the risks, non-compliance with the rules or even a lack of visibility on the premises.
Unpredictable pedestrian behaviour
Pedestrians who may be in the vicinity of a forklift may be from different locations and departments of the company. This can include not only site personnel, but also office workers.
For these various reasons, pedestrians do not necessarily pay attention to what is happening around them, especially the movement of a forklift. The risk is all the greater for people who are not at all familiar with the place.
In any case, it remains possible to anticipate, prevent and minimize all of these risks.
How to reduce the risks associated with the use of forklifts?
Above all, be aware that there are standards, regulations and laws that govern the use of forklifts, the goal being to prevent accidents. At the same time, rules must be clearly established to frame all pedestrian traffic.
Here is a series of measures that could be applied:
– Prohibition of access to traffic areas when an operator maneuvers a forklift through a light signal or a passage prohibition cord;
– Separate the circulation areas of the forklifts and those of the pedestrians in case of unavoidable cohabitation;
– Establishment of clear traffic rules for forklifts: speed; mandatory stop at dangerous zones (intersection, turn, etc.); movement signal (reversing, etc.); audible or visual signal; Etc;
– Establishment of clear traffic rules for pedestrians: compliance with authorized traffic areas; respect for priorities; specific training for pedestrians required to intervene in the vicinity of a forklift;
– Installation of protective barriers.
In the end, it is therefore a real education of employees and pedestrians. In addition, investing in accessories to secure the forklifts and people around is also recommended.