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Preventing Lift Truck Accidents

Hyster Company has researched pedestrian accidents involving lift trucks and has found that these accidents are very frequent (even though they are quite avoidable). The researchers also found that such accidents have a high rate of serious personal injury and fatalities. According to the Hyster study, there are many ways to significantly reduce lift truck pedestrian accidents:

1) Maintain lift truck visibility. Signs indicating that construction is in progress can help pedestrians see and avoid lift trucks. In addition to signs, however, reflectors on the trucks can increase visibility in the dark and in bad weather. Audible warning devices are also useful in showing pedestrians that a lift truck is nearby.

2) Train pedestrians. Pedestrians do have a responsibility to avoid these trucking accidents. In some cases, pedestrians ignore or miss warning signs and walk into construction areas or the path of lift trucks. Even employees of a construction site will sometimes not use due diligence in avoiding lift trucks.

3) Train lift truck operators to look in the direction of travel. When a lift truck is backing up, the operator should turn around and watch to see where he or she is going. When moving forward, the operator’s eyes should be forward at all times. Seeing the space immediately where the truck is moving allows the operator to see and respond to any obstacles. The Hyster study found that the same number of accidents occurred when operators were moving forward as reversing, so obviously operators need to be careful both when driving forward and back.

4) Minimize distraction. The more confusion is present in a construction or work area, the more likely lift truck accidents are. To minimize such accidents, it is a good idea to minimize distractions at the workplace, so that the lift trucks are visible and the audible signals can be heard. A good workplace layout can also be useful, especially if separate areas are maintained for vehicles and pedestrians.

5) Enforce good operating rules for lift trucks. Companies and managers can help prevent lift truck accidents by implementing good rules for operators. For example, if operators are required to sound the horn when changing directions or approaching an intersection or pedestrian area, this can help prevent accidents. Careful enforcement of such rules can help keep everyone safe.