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11% of Forklifts are Involved in Accidents Annually. What Can You Do?

"If you have a forklift, it is almost surely the most dangerous piece of equipment under your roof"

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hurtling forklift

There isn’t much other way to say it: If you have a forklift, it is almost surely the most dangerous piece of equipment under your roof. If you have many forklifts, that danger us multiplied.

How dangerous? According to OSHA estimates, there are 61,800 minor injuries, 34,900 serious injuries and 85 forklift related deaths in the United States every year. Since there are almost 900,000 forklifts operating at any given point in the United States, this is something that every operation needs to consider when your forklifts start moving on a busy day. 11% of them stand a good chance of being in an accident or collision every single year. Those aren’t great odds, considering that a forklift in a given warehouse is heavy, moving, and in a noisy and often visually crowded environment.

Of these accidents, collision type accidents account for approximately 46% of the total (adding the statistics for individuals crushed either between two lifts or between a lift and another surface, and pedestrians being struck.

From a training and process standpoint, there is plenty to be done. But there are also options to help control traffic and raise awareness.

Safety Measures for forklift aisles and operations:

Steel Guard Railing – The Fundamental Protection

guard rail protecting a work cell

The most basic is to install steel guardrails to control traffic. It does little to actually inform forklift drivers of pedestrian presence, but it does help to define areas such as work cells and keep forklifts where they belong. They can shield work cells, define aisles, and guard columns. They can put hard steel between pedestrians, machinery, offices, and other critical areas and forklift traffic.

Traffic Light Style Motion Sensors

warehouse traffic lights

To help increase visibility and keep the dangers top of mind, there are motion sensor based technologies such as Collision Awareness warehouse traffic sensors. These are like traffic lights for your warehouse, ideal for blind spots, corners and intersections in warehouses, manufacturing, and other forklift operation areas can lead to serious accidents that cause injury and death. Collision Awareness  systems help safeguard employees, equipment, and inventory by creating awareness of oncoming traffic at dangerous intersections.

AisleCop Forklift Safety Gates

AisleCop forklift safety gate system

In pedestrian aisles, AisleCop forklift safety gates prevent pedestrians from entering an aisle while forklifts are present. This system utilizes radar motion detectors and intelligent controls to control the flow of traffic, close gates, and notify forklift operators that pedestrians are present.

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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.

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