by David Hoover, president, Forklift Training Systems Inc.
Companies across the world spend millions of dollars to train their lift truck operators and the mechanics who work on lift trucks, but how many train the people who work around lift trucks? Only a small number of companies do any “pedestrian training” and the majority of those do it as part of the facility orientation or as a generic five-minute videotape, neither of which is very effective. Pedestrians are involved in up to 40 percent of all lift truck accidents, many of which end up being serious or even fatal. I have worked with several companies, after the fact, where operators have run over pedestrians, killing or disabling members of their workforce. In one case, a woman, who was an avid athlete, was trying to slide by a lift truck that was working in a narrow aisle. She knew the lift was in use, but she was in a hurry and thought she could get by before it backed up. She was not as quick as she thought and almost lost her life; she did lose one of her legs above the knee, ending her participation in athletics. How senseless; things did not have to turn out that way!
What can be done?
Educate your operators to look out for and yield to the pedestrians.
Tell your pedestrians to look for and actively avoid contact with lift trucks; pedestrians may have the right of way, but could end up being “dead right.”
Put all non-lift truck drivers who work nearby the lifts through a brief orientation about how to work safely around them. Good general videos, site-specific pictures and custom video shot on location work well together. The customization to your location will drive home that dangers exist right on your own production floor.
Ask for suggestions to improve safety from both operators and pedestrians. Whether it is putting up a barrier, a mirror or redirecting traffic flow, it is easier and far less costly to do this before the accident.
Technology is also improving quickly. The newest system on the market actually alerts lift trucks and pedestrians to each other’s presence and also tells them the direction of the danger! When entering the plant from the office, you are immediately notified if a lift is in the area and what direction it will be coming from, or if you are on a lift and another is approaching, the same applies. If you want to beef up your pedestrian training or learn more about the latest technologies, just contact us and we would be happy to assist you.
E-mail: [email protected]; phone 740-763-4978.