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DISCUSSION FORUMS : Forkliftaction.communicate
Forum: Safety, training & legislation
Discussion:  Who really has the right of way?
Number of messages: 32
Page: [1] 2
Alberta, Canada
Who really has the right of way in a general freight warehouse or perhaps a lumber yard, The forklift or the pedestrian? I would like to challenge all safety professionals to respond to this one. I have been asking this question at the beginning of every forklift safety training class for the past 5 years and you may be suprised a the answer!

Alberta Forklift Safety Council
Serious about safety!

Posted 3 Aug 2004 05:42 AM Reply  Report this message
REPLIES: Sort replies by
Alberta, Canada
  My observation is that it's usually the pedestrian that's granted the right-of-way in most workplaces. I've never seen a workplace with a "no right-of-way" policy or one with a machinery right-of-way unless in an area that's been restricted to pedestrians. In the end it's up to the employer to determine what works best.

Posted 6 Aug 2004 10:10 AM Reply  Report this message
Alberta, Canada
We are finding in our Alberta worksite poll of about 2200 operators so far a 50/50 split between the forklift and the pedestrian. So our conclusion is that nobody really knows for sure. A long standing standard adopted years ago in the larger plantsites is that the bigger machine was granted the right of way. This has now trickled down through to the smaller companies and is widely accepted.

Alberta Forklift Safety Council
Serious about safety!

Posted 7 Aug 2004 07:07 AM Reply  Report this message
Ohio, United States
In 99% of the facilities I deal with it is know that the pedestrian has the right of way.  This does not mean that they may walk out in front of a lift at will but rather if the two meet quickly the responsibility for the pedestrians safety falls to the forklift operator.  In a few rare cases I have seen companies allow the forklift the right of way and instruct pedestrians of this.  In either case the pedestrian needs to stay aware of the surroundings and avoid forklifts and the drivers need to be careful around people and keep a watchful eye out.  Forklift operators are fully trained but pedestrians usually get awareness training if any at all.

Posted 27 Aug 2004 07:05 AM Reply  Report this message
Ohio, United States

I would not blame your marketing, I can say that since we offer free pedestrian awareness training to our training clients and have only had a few take advantage of it - guess we might have to start paying them to do it!

Posted 28 Aug 2004 06:32 AM Reply  Report this message
New Brunswick, Canada
Lift Truck operators, like all powered mobile equipment must yield to pedestrians.  So.....the simple answer is, Pedestrians Have The Right-Of-Way.
Operators must have care & control of their vehicles at all times and exercise "due diligence".
Now, Implementation & understanding is another matter.  Pedestrians should be told to yield to lift trucks and watch out for their own safety.  A pedestrian could be right, but they could be dead right.
The burden is on the operator to prove that they were taking all the precautions.

Posted 5 Nov 2004 09:11 PM Reply  Report this message
United Kingdom
Its the fork lift operators responsibilty to look out for pedestrians.
And all wharehouse operatives should be made aware they look out for fork lift trucks.
So  50/50
But i teach drivers to pay attention and give way to pedestrians as the pedestrian do not know the operation of a fork lift.

Posted 12 Mar 2005 10:12 AM Reply  Report this message
Alberta, Canada
Ok now, lets look at this again!,
Half of the responses are for pedestrians to have the right of way, and the other half says the forklift has the right of way!
This is a very important issue, as pedestrian/forklift fatalities can account for 40% of all forklift fatalities. People are dying daily as we speak because we "the safety experts" can't make up our minds as to which method to use.

Alberta Forklift Safety Council
Serious about safety!

Posted 12 Mar 2005 12:06 AM Reply  Report this message
Queensland, Australia
Al S You are right! Australia has no clear defined model to follow & it appears to be the same over there
The industry is sitting on the fence or a dollar each way bet on the subject.
This clearly is not good enough because the owners & users world wide need a clear direction or path to go down .
An operator can be easily confused as to what the rules are where & when.
To use a simile can you imagine what would happen if there were no road rules or traffic lights or the rules were to be diffrent in each locality on our roads - multiplicities of death & injuries on a grand scale.
A study should be undertaken to evaluate each case by the manufacturers & users and should include Safety Professionals but only the professionals with intimate knowlege on the use of forklifts.
Curently safety is being compramised by production schedules & profit margins.
I for one am prepared o call a spade a spade and suggest that an international forum be convened to thrash out the correct model or criteria to be considerd when an organisation or government is adopting their safety policies.
We as industry professionals have the obligation or duty of care to give clear as possible information to all empoyers & legislators.
We can not, must not sit on the fence and have a dollar each way nor can we continue to bury our heads in the sand.


Modified 15 Apr 2005 06:29 AM
by poster.
Reply  Report this message
Georgia, United States
Most forklift operators look at pedestrians in a warehouse as obstacles. Its far better to give them ( pedestrians ) the right of way so that they leave the immediate area as quickly as possible.

Posted 4 Dec 2005 05:13 PM Reply  Report this message
Queensland, Australia
I must admit to initially passing your contribution over to my mental junk box but later  retrieved it for in-depth consideration.
You are of course correct!
When I paint a mental image of it, toss it around & look at it from a reverse perspective you are right on the money.
I think that our society (world wide) is focused on the bottom line. we should all consider the other persons view/perspective re safety at work.
The bottom line is important, without it we all would not have jobs.
Safety at work must never be compromised!
What is the value of the bottom line compared to a human life?
Thank god for each & every Safety officer in all parts of our world!


Posted 5 Dec 2005 08:24 AM Reply  Report this message
East Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Well I have read your comments but have yet to see any positive reply.
Every where i have worked on customers site have made every posible effort to ensure employee saftey. This was done by seperating to pedestrion from the forklifts, ie walk ways marked out, barrieers put in place. The use of hi vis vests. If you think about the the question it would be the pedestrion who should give way because of the loads these machines can carry and it is more dangerous to use excessive braking which would make the machine unstable and unsafe. I am not saying that the operator should not drive around like king of the forklift as they to have a responsability of other people around them and their saftey.

Posted 5 Dec 2005 08:55 AM Reply  Report this message
Georgia, United States
1. What is this "right of way" and what is it's purpose?

I would submit that a "right of way" is simply "who goes first through a specific location whether it be an aisle, intersection or other spot where pedestrian meets machine."

Purpose: To ensure a safer workplace for all. ( Especially in those areas where it is of necessity for pedestrians and lift operators to interact and comingle )

There are really 3 basic areas we are discussing.

a) Warehouse and related docks. In this area I honestly beleive that the pedestrian should give up right of way as the lift traffic would by nature be loaded and moving. ( this is also the primary work area for most lift traffic ) There is by nature very little pedestrian traffic in this area.

I actually greet every pedestrian I see in the warehouse area with "How can I help you?" ( Once we see and acknowledge each other the risk of an accident drops dramatically ) again...there is very little pedestrian traffic in a typical warehouse. ( Home depot or Sams is far from typical )

b) Plant floors. This area tends to have far more pedestrian traffic ( this is their work area ) I beleive that it is the lift operator that should show extreme caution and low speed (and give up right of way) The lift operator has a pick up or delivery ( maybe both ) but speed in this area is not the way  to go.  ( I would submit that these Stores like Home Depot fall into this area )

c) common areas such as entrances to office areas, breakrooms, bathroom facilities..ect.

again..Pedestrians are in far greater numbers here and the lift operator should show considerable caution and give up right of way in these types of areas. The operator should also have the habit of engaging the parking brake and taking the key with him/her when they must leave their lift ( in a designated area of course ). The worste accident I have ever witnessed was a pedestrian getting on a lift that he had no business getting on. ( he was about to be late to clock in )

All of these "safety devices" are ok i guess...but in reality..Safety is a way of thinking. It's knowing when to drive and when to slow the $#@$@ down. ( speed is a great thing to its appropriate area but it can KILL when used unwisely ) It's paying attention to your load, your lift, and your surroundings. It's taking "ownership" in your job and the area(s) in which you work.

Legislating or Engineering Safety will NEVER work. It is after all a human thing that machines will never understand.

just my .02

Posted 5 Dec 2005 06:05 PM Reply  Report this message
New Brunswick, Canada
As safety professionals there needs to be an accepted start-off point that everyone is in agreement with and a basic acceptance of fact.
When in comes to lift trucks, the fact is a simple one:  pedestrians have the right-of-way.  To promote anything else could cause legal exposure if you are a consultant/trainer charging for your services.
If you are employed as a health and safety person and promote anything other than this fact, I do have to question your decision.
You can talk about all the other items; safety garments, travel speed, no-go zones - whatever.  These are secondary to the fundamentals of lift truck use.
Based on some of the replies that I've seen on this and other postings, it concerns me that we can't have a short answer to a very specific question that everyone agrees on.  It shows why lift truck accidents still happen in the numbers that we see!

Posted 5 Dec 2005 08:59 PM Reply  Report this message
Queensland, Australia
garry p
You are right on the right track & I am in agreement with you!
What every safety officer needs is a contact address where he or she can go to get correct advice on all aspects of forklift safety.
The cold hard facts are that the majority of safety officers have little or no knowledge on forklift matters.
One has only to read these columns to see that a lot of people are putting up their hand to offer bad advice & opinions.
It is time to establish an international  safety consultancy to provide who ever with sound safety advice re. forklifts.
I have proposed such a body in these columns under the flag our host site but have had no takers.
Naturally it would have to be a structured organisation with the appropriate insurances.
Do you know a rich, caring & sympathetic benefactor?
We both agree on the need!


Posted 5 Dec 2005 10:59 PM Reply  Report this message
Wisconsin, United States
I think if you look over all the posts to this discussion you'll see far more similarities than differences in the responses. The issue here is the oversimplification of the phrase "right of way" that implies only one participant has the requirement to take an action (yield to the other participant). In practice, this oversimplification can contribute to an unsafe operation.
Pedestrians need to be trained to do their best to stay out of the path of a lift truck, and lift truck operators need to be trained to slow down whenever pedestrians are near and yield if a pedestrian is in their path. So ultimately, you could say that lift truck operators must yield to pedestrians if the pedestrian does not yield to them first.
In addition, management needs to make a concerted effort to eliminate as much vehicle/pedestrian interaction as is practical. Proper facility design should try to keep pedestrians out of heavy lift truck traffic lanes and keep lift trucks out of pedestrian work areas. Proper supervision should prevent pedestrians from mindlessly roaming or standing around in lift truck traffic areas and monitor lift truck operators to make sure they are slowing down when operating in areas where pedestrians are present. I firmly believe that a lack of adequate supervision is the most significant factor in the majority of lift truck accidents. It doesn’t matter how clearly you’ve defined “right of way” or how many “safety first” banners you have hanging in your facility; if your supervisors don’t stop a lift truck operator when they observe him driving too fast, you don’t have a safety program.

Posted 7 Dec 2005 07:02 AM Reply  Report this message
New Brunswick, Canada
There is NO oversimplification, lift truck operators MUST yield to pedestrians.
All the points you raise are very valuable, but secondary points to the question.  They have no relevance to the very, very first rule in operating a lift truck.
If a lift truck operator hits a pedestrian there is a potential of being charged with, "failure to yield right-of-way to a pedestrian".
I'm sure inventoryops, myself and most others on this list could write a book on lift truck safety.  
Why don't you start a new thread and ask for an itemized list for lift truck safety and I guarantee, it will be added to for many years and then, we can try to arrange all the points in a priority order, but..... I will end this thread again and again = LIFT TRUCKS MUST YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.

Posted 7 Dec 2005 07:35 AM Reply  Report this message
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