What’s at Stake?
We are constantly reminding our children about pedestrian safety. We tell them to cross only at designated crosswalks and to look both ways before crossing the street, but often times to forget these safety basics in the workplace. Workplace traffic can be every bit as dangerous as that found on the city streets. In a collision between a 2000-pound industrial vehicle and a 200-pound person, the pedestrian is very likely to come out the loser.
What’s the Danger?
Poor visibility increases the possibility of collisions between workers on foot and industrial vehicles. Imagine looking through your car’s windshield at steel beams, chains, cables and a heavy suspended load. How would you rate your ability to spot and avoid pedestrians? This is essentially what the forklift operator faces in the work yard or warehouse.
It can be extremely difficult for operators to see pedestrians, especially in low-light situations.
Example: An Arizona woman lay dead for three days while her husband frantically searched for her. She hadn’t met with foul play, but instead was a victim of a pedestrian incident involving a forklift.
Truck driver Sheila Ross was struck and pushed by a forklift as she walked along a warehouse loading dock. No one witnessed the collision and apparently the forklift operator was unaware of the incident
How to Protect Yourself?
Here are some reminders about pedestrian safety to take with you to the work yard or warehouse:
- Wear a reflective vest.
- Stick to the walkways and designated crosswalks. Don’t take shortcuts.
- Stay alert. Don’t get so lost in conversation or deep thought that you don’t notice the hazards around you.
- Remove your earbuds. Forklift operators often sound horns to warn pedestrians, but if you’re wearing earbuds and listening to music, you’re not only less likely to hear a horn, you may also be unaware of what’s going on around you and walk right into the path of moving machinery.
- Look ALL ways before crossing a traffic lane, including behind and beside you for any vehicles turning in from alleys or side streets.
Avoid approaching a forklift from the side. If the forklift suddenly backs up and turns sharply, someone approaching from the side can easily be struck.
- Don’t rely on traffic control devices. A “walk” sign only means that you may proceed if it’s safe to do so.
- Never assume that vehicle drivers see you and never assume they will stop. Make eye contact with drivers and wait for permission to pass, even if the vehicle has stopped.