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Pedestrians and forklift safety

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One of the most dangerous pieces of equipment at the workplace, a forklift presents significant risk to the safety of pedestrians. Not surprisingly, almost half of all people injured by a forklift are pedestrians. 

Crushing is the most common form of forklift-related injury sustained by pedestrians. Even at low speeds, forklifts present significant risk to the safety of pedestrians. Half the pedestrians killed were crushed by forklifts that were barely moving. However, these accidents can be prevented or reduced by implementing simple forklift safety measures to separate foot and forklift traffic. 

To begin with, forklift use should be prohibited or minimised in the vicinity of heavy pedestrian traffic areas such as tea rooms, time clocks, cafeterias, amenities and entrances. 

Designate exclusion zones for pedestrians and forklifts. Pedestrian exclusion zones should be enforced within a three-metre radius of a forklift. This distance should expand when the height of the forklift load or the speed travelled increases. If a pedestrian is within three metres of a forklift, employers are required to justify this practice through risk assessment and suitable risk control measures.

Pedestrian walkways must be clearly marked. Physical barriers will ensure workstations are separated from forklift travel areas. 

A mix of audio and visual warnings using high volume alarms and horns coupled with flashing lights is the best way to warn pedestrians of approaching forklifts. Flashing lights are imperative in areas with a high level of ambient workplace noise. 

Installing overhead dome mirrors at intersections and blind corners will benefit pedestrians as well as forklift operators, increasing safety. Avoid placing bins, racks and storage units that obstruct a forklift operator's view at intersections or around corners.

Australian Forklift Training is a leading provider of forklift training courses.

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