Forklift accidents are one of the most common types of work-related injuries. Injuries can be serious and non-serious – ranging from fractured bones to spinal cord injuries, amputation, and even death. In the United States alone, forklifts cause around 85 deaths every year.
Are Forklifts Dangerous Vehicles?
An average forklift weighs around 9000 lbs – almost the same density as a female African elephant. In terms of comparison, an average car weighs approximately 3000 lbs. The weight in a forklift is evenly distributed; it is more substantial in the rear as a counterbalance for the pressure of objects in the front. Unlike cars, forklifts have brakes only on the front wheels and have a small turning radius, making it difficult for the operator to control the vehicle. It also makes the forklift easier to tip over while turning. Forklift operators must be cautious not only when driving but also during turning, stopping, or accelerating. Accidents are also common when safety instructions ignored when lowering or raising the goods around.
What Are The Common Types Of Forklift Accidents?
Some common forklift-related accidents include forklift overturning, operator falling off the vehicle, the operator being crushed or struck by the forklift, and pedestrians being hit by a forklift. The American Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that around 20% of forklift accidents involve pedestrians.
Operators who are not careful while turning the forklift could seriously hurt themselves due to the forklift overturning. Forklifts can move in both directions, backward and forward, and operators must practice safety distancing. Or, they could end up striking an object and get hurt. Sometimes, the forklift falls off the loading dock, pinning the operator down or throwing him out of the operator area, which could be fatal.
Ideally, a four-foot safety zone is maintained during forklift operations. The danger zone naturally varies depending on the length of the load – long loads need a more widespread safety zone when compared to horizontal loads. Sometimes, accidents can happen even when the pedestrian is outside the four-foot “danger zone,” especially during a blind spot turn.
Other Common Causes Of Forklift Accidents
Inadequate training is one of the main reasons for forklift accidents. Improperly trained operators could put their lives as well as the lives of onlookers at risk. They must be aware of the latest safety updates, and their performance evaluated periodically. Pedestrians in the warehouse must be trained to help them understand the primary hazards of working around a forklift and the precautions they must take to prevent an accident. Instructions could include never walking under a load, alerting an operator if you are crossing the forklifting path from behind, not riding pillion on a forklift, etc.
Forklift speeding is a common problem, especially among experienced operators who become complacent when behind the wheels. A forklift truck should be limited to not more than 8 miles per hour. Although the operator is aware, speed limits must be posted in bold and around the driving area as a reminder. Workplace design and in-house safety regulations are also essential factors. Consider space constraints before selecting a forklift model and ensure the area of operation is always clear of any obstructions. The loading dock must be clutter-free and clean. And ample warning signs must be posted around forklift parking zones and the area of operation.
How To Prevent Forklift Accidents?
Proper training helps prevents infrastructure damage and harm to humans. Operator’s training will help them adapt to the work environment. They must be trained to handle obstacles, manage pedestrian traffic, and be alerted about floor gradient changes. Prospective candidates must be subject to a written exam, reflex test, eye test, and behavioural exam while hiring, in addition to the professional certification. Proper maintenance also helps to avert accidents that happen because of faulty accidents. Maintenance personnel must ensure that adequate tools are purchased or replaced promptly. Accessories must be attached securely to prevent slipping. Effective safety products also help to safeguard persons and property. Pedestrian barriers, backup alarms, safety lights, camera systems, and forklift proximity detection systems can prevent accidents and related injuries.
What Are Forklift Proximity Detection Systems?
Forklift Proximity Detection Systems protect operators and pedestrians by monitoring and alerting the concerned parties. These systems use radio frequency or magnetic field technology to penetrate through walls, racks, containers, etc., to create visual and audible alerts.
How Does The Forklift Proximity Detection System Work?
The forklift safety system alerts the operator if an object or person is close to the forklift by flashing a red signal or sounding an alarm. Pedestrians are also alerted either by a visual or audible warning. If all else fails or the pedestrian/object is too close, the system stops the forklift. Forklift Proximity Detection Systems also help prevent damage to sensitive equipment, critical when working with aircraft or other sensitive cargo.
Forklift Proximity Detection Systems also work by using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags either carried by pedestrians/operators, attached to equipment, or even set up around accident-prone areas. These tags can detect obstructions from half a meter to up to 25 meters and can be operated on the forklift’s front, back, and sides. Forklift Proximity systems are easy to install and cost-effective when compared to other safety systems like 360º cameras.
As earlier said, forklift proximity systems also work by using magnetic sensors. Unlike RFID –based systems, magnetic sensor-based systems can penetrate through walls, racks, and containers. Here again, a Personal Alarm Device or PAD is to be worn by the pedestrian. This device has elements that can sense the magnetic field from the Magnetic Field Generator placed in the forklift. When magnetic fields are detected, an alarm will sound off to warn the operator and pedestrians. Since vehicle collision is another common reason for forklift accidents, a magnetic-field-based collision prevention system is fitted on forklifts. These systems sound an alarm when two forklifts are close. Companies specialising in Proximity Alarm Systems offer a vast range of innovative products, including remote event monitoring, access control, and area control.
Benefits Of Using Forklift Proximity Systems
- These are usually fail-safe. Users are alerted if the mechanism isn’t working. Also, the personal alarm devices attached to pedestrians have a low battery alert. And if the operator is approaching a hazardous area, you can control this using a structure monitoring system.
- You can customise these systems to match your specifications and unique operating environments using auxiliary devices that work with necessary proximity devices.
- To operate in congested areas or intersections, you can use the area control system – it includes equipment that works well in narrow spaces.
- You can also control access to these devices by using access control systems – it ensures that personnel not equipped with these proximity alarm systems cannot enter operation areas.
Here is a video about the Forklift Proximity System.