Understanding the Workplace » Pedestrian Traffic

Figure 1. Operator cautioning pedestrian to stop.
Figure 1. Operator cautioning pedestrian to stop.

Many pedestrians or bystanders are injured in forklift-related accidents. These injuries can occur when forklifts strike pedestrians or when pedestrians are struck by falling loads.

Additional Resources:

Figure 2. Yield right of way to pedestrians. Figure 3. Slow down, stop and sound horn at intersections and wherever your vision is obstructed.

Forklift operators should always be aware of conditions in their workplace, including pedestrian traffic. Forklift traffic should be separated from other workers and pedestrians where possible.

Potential Hazard

  • Danger of striking pedestrians and objects

Requirements and Recommended Practices

  • Yield right of way to pedestrians.

  • When a person or group of people walks across your planned route:

    • Stop.

    • Wait until the pedestrians pass by.

    • Proceed cautiously through any congested area.

  • If an area is cluttered, walk the route first to spot problems.

    • Check for situations that require a spotter and use one when traveling.

    • Warn pedestrians, by asking them to move, if there is not sufficient safe clearance.

    • Sound the horn at blind corners, doorways and aisles.

    • Sound the horn or other alarm when you back up.

Figure 4. Sign posted in area with high pedestrian traffic.

Reminders for the Driver

  • Slow down, stop and sound horn at intersections, corners, and wherever your vision is obstructed.

  • When provided, use flashing warning light or backup alarms when traveling in reverse.

  • Do not move the truck if you do not have a clear view of travel.

  • Use a spotter for blind spots.

  • Always look in the direction of travel.

  • Keep a clear view.

  • Start, stop, travel, steer and brake smoothly.

  • Signal to pedestrians to stand clear.

  • Do not allow anyone to stand or pass under the load or lifting mechanism.

  • When possible, make eye contact with pedestrians or other forklift operators.

Reminders for the Pedestrians

  • Be aware that lift trucks cannot stop suddenly. They are designed to stop slowly to minimize load damage and maintain stability.

  • Stand clear of lift trucks in operation.

  • Avoid a run-in. The driver's visibility may be limited due to blind spots.

  • Be aware of the wide rear swing radius.

  • Use pedestrian walkways, or stay to one side of the equipment aisle.

  • Never ride on a forklift, unless authorized and the forklift is designed for riders.

  • Never pass under an elevated load.

Reminders for Plant Safety Managers

  • OSHA requires that permanent aisles and passageways be free from obstructions and appropriately marked where mechanical handling equipment is used. [29 CFR 1910.176(a)]

  • Consider separating pedestrians from lift trucks by providing:

    • Pedestrian walkways,

    • Permanent railings or other protective barriers,

    • Adequate walking space at least on one side, if pedestrians must use equipment aisles,

    • Pedestrian walkway striping on the floor, if barriers cannot be used.

  • Install convex mirrors at blind aisle intersections.

  • Post traffic control signs.

  • Post plant speed limits.

Figure 5. Do not carry passengers. Figure 6. Specialized platform for lifting coworker. Note: There is a guard on the back of the platform to keep the person in the platform and protect the worker's arms and hands.

Passengers should not be allowed on forklifts unless the forklift is specifically designed to accommodate passengers.

Potential Hazard

  • Danger of falling

Requirements and Recommended Practices

  • The OSHA standard [29 CFR 1910.178(m)(3)] states that unauthorized personnel are prohibited from riding on a forklift. If riders are authorized, a safe place must be provided.

  • Unless authorized, never carry passengers --

  • Use only specialized equipment designed to raise personnel.

  • Never transport employees on a platform. Employees can only be hoisted up and down.

  • Never transport employees on the forks.

Figure 7. Operator signaling to coworker to stand back.

Forklift operators should keep a safe distance from workers on foot and other pedestrians.

Potential Hazard

  • Danger of striking pedestrians

Requirements and Recommended Practices

  • Warn pedestrians of your approach by horn, hand signal, or warning light.

  • Maintain a safe clearance from coworkers.

  • Employees should stay out of the potential path where a load can fall.