Forklift Pedestrian Safety: Introduction to the Risks - Part 1
Filed under: Safety
This three part series is aimed at helping people understand the risks associated with pedestrian traffic and safety. In part (1) we will introduce you to forklift related injuries. In parts (2) & (3) we will discuss possible solutions to the key areas of risk, namely; separation, speed management and visibility.
Knowing the risks: Common forklift related injuries/fatalities
“From 2000 to 2007 in Australia; over 7400 work-place injuries were caused by forklift accidents” Comcare.gov.au. On average up to 50% of forklift accidents are pedestrian related, resulting in pedestrian deaths every year in Australia.
The dangers of forklifts are consistently overlooked by employees and employers. Therefore it is essential that people are aware of the risks and plan head to reduce the dangers.
On average, a fully laden two tonne forklift can weigh more than 5000kg. That’s more than 4 times the weight of an average sedan.
Accidents involving forklifts tipping over is one of the biggest dangers for both drivers and pedestrians. Being crushed by a forklift is an all too common incident in Australia. Forklift operators attempting to jump from a tipping forklift and pedestrians being crushed, or pinned are amongst the most common accidents.
Forklift stability is a key issue in causing these accidents; due to the low stability margin of forklifts around 30-40% with the load down. While fully elevated this margin is reduced further to as low as 15-20%.
Braking is another major factor in these accidents. According to Worksafe Victoria at 14km/h a forklift requires 10 metres to stop safely. Even at a walking pace of 6km/h it can take up to 3 metres to stop for a forklift.
Falling Objects accidents
The next biggest threat to pedestrians and operators are falling objects. Key factors usually involved include using damaged pallets, drums, bins or containers that might collapse during use. Using the incorrect lifting equipment or using a damaged/run down forklift can lead to hydraulics failing or tynes being too thin and snapping under load.
Other falling hazards include falling racking; or other plant equipment; which could be triggered by an incorrect manoeuvre by a forklift operator.
Running over pedestrian’s feet
Another common pedestrian related accident is forklifts running over workers feet. Imagine the damage from a 5000kg+ plus forklift running over a person’s foot; the resulting injuries could be life-long and possibly cripple the victim permanently.
2.5 Tonne full ladened forklift will produce 300 megapascals (MPa) or 43,511(pound per square inch) PSI of pressure to the top of the foot.
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