Those who drive forklifts and other mobile equipment have a responsibility to drive safely and be on the lookout for pedestrians. Because of their design, with masts and roll cages, forklifts in particular have limited visibility. Incidents involving pedestrians rarely occur, but when they do, the injuries are almost always serious.
But it is not just the driver’s responsibility. Pedestrians have the responsibility to stay alert and use the provided pedestrian aisle. Pedestrians must realize that there is always a possibility of a driver momentarily losing focus. Even a driver who always sounds his horn at intersections may have his mind elsewhere one time.
To avoid pedestrian / mobile equipment incidents:
- Check overhead mirrors and look both ways before stepping into an intersection
- Never cross in front of or behind a manned vehicle, whether it’s moving or stopped
- As we say in training, “Make Eye Contact” with the driver and “Wait For The Wave”!
- Keep your body clear of mobile equipment. Remember and follow the TWO FOOT RULE and stay at least two feet away from all vehicles.
- Never cross under the raised forks of a forklift, whether it has a load or not
- Be alert for reverse lights and signals, indicating that a vehicle is backing up
- Be especially cautious in areas where floors and aisles may be covered with lubricants due to manufacturing processes in the area; mobile equipment can slide out-of-control
- Wait for vehicles to make a complete stop. Be aware that lift trucks cannot stop suddenly. They are designed to stop slowly to minimize load damage and maintain stability
- Never allow someone to get a ride by hopping onto the frame, forks or body of a forklift
- Forklifts are not to be used as people lifts. Falls from raised pallets or forks should never happen. Don’t be one of the statistics.
- Keep a safe distance from a loading or unloading forklift. Loads are especially unstable during the loading/unloading process. Staying at least ten (10) feet clear assures you won’t be hit or crushed if the load should fall.
- Mobile equipment, especially if electrically powered, may be very quiet. Stay alert, and expect the appearance of a forklift with no warning.
Making It Personal
Close to 20 percent of all forklift accidents involve a pedestrian being struck by a forklift, translating to almost 19,000 people per year. Many of the accidents involved injury to pedestrians who were not only aware of the presence of the lift truck but who were, in fact, working with the operator of the truck that struck them. Don’t be one of them!