Danny Maron, owner/trainer of Ideal Forklift Training in Canada's national capital, is an independent consultant, providing the education lift truck operators require, to businesses and government, to minimise the chance of incidents in the workplace. Before founding Ideal in 2000, Danny was a trainer at Canada's largest forklift dealer.
One of these days these forklifts are gonna walk all over you (them, boots), warns Danny Maron
Ah, yes, pedestrians and forklifts: two formidable enemies. One is a killer, and the other is a believer of death-defying stunts. Opposite ends of the spectrum, and one will get badly hurt, or even killed, while the other will be remorseful for a lifetime - and possibly very broke.
It never ceases to amaze me how pedestrians always think that they will get the better of a turning forklift. Constantly, we witness pedestrians trying to sneak around a forklift, getting between the counterweight and the wall or rack unit behind them, only to get crushed between the two. It has to be very painful, but maybe only for a second, and then the pain will fade away.
Forklift operators must look out for the pedestrians, and not the other way around.
Pedestrians have two issues: one is they do not know the true weight of a forklift and, secondly, the wide rear-end swing of a sit-down forklift. Pedestrians believe that these forklifts steer like cars, and ever since the age of two, multiple times a day, they have grown accustomed to walking behind a car, as it is turning, and know that they will never get touched. Believing that the forklift steers like a car, they figure they will never get touched by it either. But what they believe and what is actually occurring are two different things. As the forklift turns with its rear wheels, the back end tends to swing very wide, and anything caught between this massive block of iron and the unit behind it will be severely crushed.
And ask any pedestrian: which weighs more - their car or the forklift, and 99% of the time, they will respond the car. A fully loaded 5,000 lb. capacity forklift weighs approximately 15,000 lb. (6,800 kg) plus the weight of the fuel source and the operator. Cars can weigh as little as 2,500 lb. (1,100 kg), making the forklift as much as five times the weight of a car or small SUV. Without realising the true weight of these short, narrow trucks, pedestrians tend to take chances by scurrying behind the forklift when the forklift is turning, or run across the aisle as the forklift approaches. And when a moving 15,000 lb. vehicle makes contact with the pedestrian, SAYONARA
Since pedestrian training is NOT the law, most if not all, companies fail to spend the few dollars to train their staff, although most will train their forklift operators, 'cause that is the law. Without the knowledge to understand and realise the dangers of working around these heavy trucks, it is the forklift operator who must look out for the pedestrians, and not the other way around. It is in the best interests of pedestrians to look out for these trucks because they will be dead in a few seconds. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the operators.
So, pedestrians always come first and have right of way. Generally, not a difficult task to undertake; however, some operators are not brilliant enough to realise this, or are under extreme pressure to move inventory around very quickly and, unfortunately, someone ends up dead.
As a trainer, these points must be fully delivered to any student taking a forklift operators safety course, with the hopes of no-one getting killed by a forklift. Because when one is buried, they are usually buried without their boots!