But, I'm No Forklift Driver!

The burden of risk is on you if you're afoot near forklift operations

Just because you don't drive a forklift, it doesn't mean you don't need to know about forklift safety - in fact, if you are a pedestrian in a warehouse, factory, or lumber yard where forklifts are present, you should be more aware of the dangers than the drivers. You're the one at risk. You can take steps to safeguard yourself and those working around you when forklifts are in your area, or when you are in the forklift's area.

Make yourself visible to the driver

Pedestrian in warehouseFirst and foremost, when a forklift comes near, make sure the driver sees you. Make eye contact with the driver and be sure he acknowledges your presence. Remove mirrored or tinted safety glasses so the driver can see your eyes and know you have seen him.

If a forklift is stationary but the driver is in the seat and the engine is running, make sure to let the driver know you are there. He may suddenly begin moving and you could become pinned between the forklift and another object.

Always approach a forklift from the side – and only after it has come to a complete stop. The front and rear areas of a forklift are the most dangerous to approach from - ALWAYS approach from the side.

Obey traffic rules

Always obey traffic safety devices such as motion sensor alarms and pedestrian safety gates. These devices make sure both you and the forklift driver are aware of oncoming traffic. No matter who enters an intersection first, it's your job to yield the right-of-way to any forklift approaching unless a safety gate has dropped its boom arm and opened the crosswalk in your direction.

Stop, look both ways, and listen before entering an aisle, going around a blind corner or entering a forklift traffic lane from an office or other doorway. Be especially careful when entering between racks, from between stacks of product or other items where a driver will not see you until you're already in his path. Be aware of blind spots where you and a forklift driver cannot see each other.

Never climb over guard rails to cross a forklift traffic zone. The guard rails are there to protect both you and drivers from a devastating collision. Only enter forklift traffic zones at marked crosswalks.

Keep workers and work zones safe

To help forklift drivers safely move through a facility, keep aisles clear of obstructions. Remove any hazards such as pallet stacks that obstruct travel paths or visibility. Keep spills cleaned up to reduce possible skidding or loss of steering control.

Keep a safe distance from a loading or unloading forklift. Loads are especially unstable during the loading/unloading process. Staying at least ten (10) feet clear assures you won't be hit or crushed if the load should fall.

NEVER walk under raised forks or pass in front of a forklift with raised forks – whether loaded or empty. Don't work below loads on raised forks. It's all too easy for the forklift to lose pressure and the forks lower before you can get out of the way.

Forklifts are not intended to carry people unless that person is sitting in the driver's seat. Never allow someone to get a ride by hopping onto the frame, forks or body of a forklift.

Forklifts are not to be used as people lifts. Falls from raised pallets or forks should never happen. Don't be one of the statistics.

Lastly, remember that just like you have a responsibility to report unsafe forklift drivers, they are required to report unsafe pedestrian behavior. No, you may not be a forklift driver, but if you want to stay safe, you need to know forklift safety as if you were one.