Industrial traffic is a danger, particularly to pedestrians. The injury and fatality numbers are so frightening that any operation that mixes vehicles should consider options above and beyond simple training when it comes to these issues. There are plenty of options that help increase visibility, warn drivers and help protect pedestrians. One versatile option is the ZoneSafe proximity and warning alert system.
It’s now represented in North America by Cisco-Eagle. Let’s talk about what makes it different.
36% of forklift injury accidents involve pedestrians. That’s tens of thousands of accidents a year in the U.S. alone, a great many of them with direct bearing on pedestrians, who are at great risk. Due to the sheer mass of forklifts, they are particularly dangerous for pedestrians. Almost all these accidents result in serious injuries due to the mass and size of forklifts. Forklifts account for 1% of industrial accidents, but 10% of injuries. That statistic alone should put dealing with lift traffic and the ways it threatens walking employees, order pickers, and others a top priority.
People store all kinds of things on pallet rack – from truck engines to fine jewelry. How do you protect valuable goods from being accessed by unauthorized personnel? What about inventory toppling off the back of the rack into an aisle where workers are?
Choosing guard rail can be confusing unless you understand clearly what kinds of conditions you are protecting against and what assets you are protecting. Whether it be fall protection for workers or asset protection from industrial vehicle usage, there is a guard rail that fits that need.
It’s always dangerous when forklifts and people inhabit the same work areas.
You’ve probably heard the statistics when it comes to the forklift and its safety, but one of the most disturbing is the injury rate compared to incident rate. Forklifts cause just 1% of industrial accidents, but are responsible for a staggering 10% of all injuries in the space. So what can you do to help keep people and industrial traffic separated?
In recent years, many vendors have created products to help increase pedestrian safety in warehouses, factories, and other areas where forklifts operate. This is no wonder: accidents in this area are far too frequent, and often very devastating or even fatal. Because Cisco-Eagle provides such solutions, we have been asked about the compliance of these products to industry standards, such as the AIAG’s Pedestrian & Vehicle Safety Guidelines.
OSHA estimates 85 deaths, 35,000 serious injuries, and another 62,000 non-serious injuries. More than 11% of forklifts are involved in these accidents every year, meaning that the forklift in your warehouse is statistically destined to have an accident before it goes out of service.
The cherry on top of this awful pie? Almost 40% of those accidents, depending on whose numbers you follow, involve a pedestrian. And this doesn’t take into account the accidents that damage property, but don’t hurt people. Forklift-to-forklift collisions, or forklift colliding with warehouse racks aren’t included in these numbers if people aren’t injured.
Take a look at your conveyor – do you think it’s safe? Are there sufficient guardrails? Are operators wearing loose clothing? Are visitors allowed near running lines? Because conveyor seems safe at a glance, it’s an often-overlooked hazard. Used correctly, of course, it is a safe way to increase productivity.
In an industrial environment, intersections can be dangerous. With fast-moving workers who are busy and probably distracted, and fast-moving forklifts that may have loads elevated that can obstruct the driver’s view, corners, ends of rack rows, and intersections can be the cause of many accidents. Whether it’s a worker walking and carrying a load, or a forklift on its way to the next pick, the chances of collisions, injuries, and damages are greater at intersections than most anywhere else. What are your options when it comes to making your intersections safer?
Although this incident took place in a big-box warehouse store, it could have happened in any number of industrial warehouses across the country. The presence of order pickers, shoppers, or others in a rack aisle is a top safety concern, in particular if the aisle on the other side of the rack row is being restocked. Most likely this accident was caused by a push from the opposite side of the racks.
In any case, a tragic accident was narrowly avoided by sheer luck.
If possible, these kinds of accidents should be guarded against with items such as rack safety nets or wire mesh safety panels. This isn’t always possible, since lifts may need access to both sides of a rack aisle.
Another thing you can do is try to remove pickers from aisles where trucks are working the other side. If they are executing each-pick or carton-pick from lower bays, is it possible to move those to their own area of the warehouse, away from lift truck traffic?
In the case of poorly constructed storage, it’s a matter of process. Inspect pallets before they go into the rack. Are they stacked for stability? Shrinkwrap or band them to shore them up. Don’t allow carton picks from those pallets if possible, as that can destabilize the load. If you must pick from them, bring them down, pick, re-balance, and restock them. That’s time consuming compared to a quick carton pick, but given what almost happened here, and what could happen any day in any warehouse, it’s a small price to pay.
You can also clear both sides of a bay when either side is being loaded or unloaded by forklift. This helps you keep people safe even if there is a spill. Of course training lift drivers to avoid these types of “push” accidents is mandatory, but you can’t count on training alone when there is this kind of danger to people in the next aisle.