This Forklift Accident was Completely Preventable
Layout, clutter and other factors created this accident
You can see some of the mistakes happening in this video. Others aren’t so obvious.
What were the problems here?
#1: The driver is traveling too fast
That said, he’s not racing, but that doesn’t matter. He’s carrying a wide load through a narrow space. He was either distracted or he went faster than he should have through a tight spot, or both.
#2: The aisle is cluttered
Why create a pinch point with stacks of drums? Poor housekeeping in a warehouse is dangerous. One of the best things you can do for safety in your warehouse is to make sure there is adequate — or more than adequate — aisle space. It should be clear, it should be clean, it should have space and it should be highly visible. It should never be close to this tight. If you need space, find it elsewhere.
#3: The pallet racks were possibly overloaded
That forklift was moving too fast for the situation, but it wasn’t pedal-to-the-metal-fast. Although the weight of a forklift can turn a slow impact into devastation, a properly loaded, undamaged rack with upright post protectors should not necessarily collapse when struck slowly. While you never want to smack an upright, exceeding rack capacities can make them much more susceptible to collapse, even to minor impacts. Always know your listed capacity, and stick to it.
#4: The uprights may have suffered previous damage
This can cause a collapse. I’ve been in warehouses where you could walk for five minutes and find a dozen bent uprights. That’s insanity. There isn’t any way to tell whether or not the upright was dented from this video, but the point is this: routinely inspect your racks and assess your uprights. They’re cheap to replace, and doing so could prevent injuries and major accidents.
#5: The driver should not have fled the forklift
It has a cage for a reason — to protect him from falling objects. He was much safer inside than he was doing the “Die Hard” jump out. Drivers are almost always better off strapped in and under the protection of the vehicle’s roll cage, but this time in particular the driver was trying to avoid falling items. He was more exposed to danger outside the cockpit than inside it.
Scott Stone is Cisco-Eagle's Vice President of Marketing with more than thirty years of experience in material handling, warehousing and industrial operations. His work is published in multiple industry journals an websites on a variety of warehousing topics. He writes about automation, warehousing, safety, manufacturing and other areas of concern for industrial operations and those who operate them.