10 Ways to Prioritize Forklift Pedestrian Safety

Two male workers having a forklift safety talk and looking over a checklist

Forklift pedestrian safety is critical to the success and safety of your workers. Creating a safety protocol to help protect pedestrians and operators will minimize dangerous accidents.

Operating a 10,000+ pound forklift is a huge responsibility. Both the operator and the pedestrian need to follow guidelines to ensure safety during operation. Emphasize to all your employees that forklift pedestrian safety is ultimately up to them. Open clear and effective forklift safety talk and communication between all employees.

It is important that all operators and pedestrians are on the same page. Protect warehouse pedestrian safety at your facility by educating your employees. Here are some tips to address when going over your forklift safety talk.

10 Forklift Pedestrian Safety Practices

To protect forklift pedestrian safety at your workplace, you’ll need to develop the proper protocol and educate your employees on safe practices. Here are 10 tips to get you started:

1. Operators should yield to pedestrians.

OSHA recommends that all forklift drivers yield the right of way to pedestrians. This practice eliminates confusion among employees. Start any forklift safety talk with this simple fact. This will create a foundation for warehouse pedestrian safety. It will also encourage operators to navigate with caution and look out for pedestrians.

2. Use forklift hand signals regularly.

Develop clear and easy forklift hand signals for communication between operators and pedestrians. For example, a pedestrian may point in the direction they intend to walk when they see a forklift. Or, a forklift operator may use their hands to signal the direction of a turn. However they are used, forklift hand signals increase transparency in the workplace.

Simple miscommunication can lead to injury and death when material handling equipment is involved. Be sure to train your employees well on forklift hand signals. Consider printing these signals and posting them around the workplace for quick reference.

3. Pedestrians should move around the workplace with caution.

As previously mentioned, pedestrians have the right of way. However, that doesn’t mean they should assume every operator sees them. As much as we’d like to think our operators exhibit immense caution every time they’re behind the wheel, the truth is that distractions happen. These distractions compromise forklift driving safety.

Think about a pedestrian crossing the street. Just because the crosswalk signals that they may cross doesn’t mean the pedestrian shouldn’t look both ways first. There’s a good chance a driver may not notice the crosswalk. Some drivers may turn on red without looking or even roll right through the light.

The same applies to your workplace. Warehouse pedestrian safety relies on the vigilance of the pedestrian as much as it relies on the vigilance of the operator.

4. Operators should follow OSHA laws for forklift driving safety.

OSHA created guidelines on forklift driving safety to protect both operators and pedestrians from fatal accidents. It is critical that everyone at your workplace understands these rules. Need a refresher? We wrote a whole blog about OSHA forklift safety here.

Have a routine forklift safety talk with your employees, reminding them of these guidelines. Create flyers and cheat sheets to post around the facility as quick reminders.

5. Optimize workplace visibility.

Install signage to help workers navigate your workplace. Think of elements that can improve visibility at your specific workplace. For instance, are there multiple blind spots? Consider installing mirrors in these areas. Are there entrance/exit ramps with limited visibility? Consider labeling these ramps to notify pedestrians.

Protect forklift pedestrian safety by improving visibility.

6. Mark walkways to improve the flow of traffic.

Floor markings are ideal for safe navigation. OSHA standards dictate that permanent aisles and passageways should be marked. Use tape to clearly show the path of navigation through the facility. Eliminate confusion by blocking off areas that operators should not access. For detailed tips on how to mark walkways to protect warehouse pedestrian safety, click here.

7. Create audio indicators of hazards.

While forklift hand signals are necessary, it’ll take more than that to protect employee safety. In some cases, audible warnings are more effective in a loud work environment. If you’re not sure where or if you need this, it’s a good idea to get feedback from your employees. Ask them where they feel the least safe and how you can fix that.

8. Maintain forklift equipment.

No matter how many safety standards you create, your employees will never be protected if your equipment is unreliable. A forklift that is not regularly inspected or maintained is unreliable and dangerous. Take care of your equipment.

9. Ensure forklift safety features are operating properly.

When operators perform daily forklift inspections, they should check the functionality of all safety features. This includes the brakes, seatbelts, lights, and horn. Be sure to emphasize this during every forklift safety talk.

10. Use the proper tools for the job.

Most importantly, use the right tools for the job. Make sure your operators are choosing the right attachments and forklift type for each application. Even equipment in good condition can cause problems if operators are using it incorrectly.

Yellow signage protecting warehouse pedestrian safety

Maintaining Warehouse Pedestrian Safety

Each of these tips will help you prioritize safety in your workplace. However, the safety of your employees is only as good as the quality of your equipment.

That’s why it’s important to take care of your machinery. Routine maintenance can help ensure forklift driving safety. Also, knowing when to replace your equipment is critical. When a forklift is unreliable, it may break during operation, which is a huge safety risk.

If it’s time to purchase new equipment for your business, turn to Industrial Forklift Truck. We offer the largest selection of high-quality new and used forklifts for sale nationwide. Get upfront pricing on all your options to find the best deal in your area. Compare forklift quotes today with Industrial Forklift Truck.

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