Warehouse Traffic Control to Improve Forklift Safety

6 min read

Forklift accidents are one of the most frequent causes for injuries and other issues in the workplace today. In fact, one out of every six workplace deaths in America are related to a forklift incident. This is why it is so important for any company that uses forklifts to have a comprehensive safety program in place that will help minimize the risks involved. While there are many different steps that can be taken to improve forklift safety, managing traffic is one of the most effective.

Take some time to learn more about warehouse traffic control and how it can improve your forklift safety by reading this article. From there, you can create a custom warehouse traffic control policy that will help to improve your overall workplace safety.

What is a Traffic Control Strategy?

Everyone should be familiar with what a traffic control strategy is. The most familiar area where this type of thing is used is out on public roads. The local governments make rules regarding things like which direction traffic should go, how fast people can travel, when turns can be made, and much more.

Each warehouse or other facility should operate in much the same way. Whenever a company has forklifts or any indoor vehicles in operation, they should create a set of rules regarding how they should be run. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page and the operators of these vehicles will drive them in predictable ways, which makes them much safer.

When it comes to the public roadways, the government implements various penalties associated with violating their traffic laws. While nobody likes getting a ticket, it does help to ensure the traffic laws are followed and everyone is able to drive as safe as possible. This is why all companies should also add some consequences if vehicle operators violate the established traffic control policy as well. Anything that can be done to ensure everyone is following these policies will go a long way toward minimizing the risks associated with the operation of these types of vehicles.

Applies to All Types of Warehouse Traffic

There are laws in place for public roadways that apply to anyone who is traveling on them. This includes normal cars, large trucks, people on bikes, and even pedestrians who are walking or running. Having a comprehensive traffic policy for a warehouse that provides rules for everyone who is in the area is just as important.

If a person is walking through a warehouse and they cross an aisle where a person is driving a forklift, they may get hit even if the forklift operator is driving safely. This is a big risk because the visibility for forklifts is not always great. Having rules in place for where and when people can walk will help ensure employees walking through an area know how to avoid getting hit by a forklift or other vehicle.

What Should a Warehouse Traffic Control Policy Cover?

When creating your traffic control policies for forklifts and other vehicles, you will want to make sure you set up rules that cover every situation that you can think of. Having a comprehensive policy in place will help to ensure everyone knows exactly what they should and should not be doing in a given situation. While this will primarily be focused on telling forklift, high-low, and other drivers how to operate their machines, it will also cover anyone else who works in the area. A few of the most important things to have policies for include the following:

  • Training Requirements – Nobody should operate forklifts or other vehicles without proper training and licenses. It needs to be clear that nobody without an operator’s permit should ever even be sitting behind the controls of these vehicles.
  • Safe Speeds – Just like with public roads, there needs to be speed limits for driving vehicles in your warehouse. Making sure drivers are slowing down in areas where people may be walking, for example, is essential for safety.
  • Driving Conditions (No Elevated Loads) – Make sure that it is clear that forklift operators are not to drive with an elevated load since that can be very hazardous due to changes in balance and reduced visibility.
  • Turning – Turning with a forklift or other vehicle can often be dangerous, which is why a good traffic control policy will require that operators slow down and make sure they have plenty of room to complete their turns.
  • Rides on Forklifts – It should be clear that it is never acceptable to give people a ride on the forks of a forklift. This is extremely dangerous and can cause serious accidents or injuries.
  • Checking for Pinch Points – Anytime an operator of a vehicle like this is making a movement that could cause a pinch point, they should be required to check the hazard area to ensure nobody is present.
  • Load Restrictions – Every forklift has a set amount of weight that it is designed to safely support. Taking precautions to ensure that this limit is never exceeded will help to prevent the forklift from tipping over or having other issues.
  • Operation Location Restrictions – Forklifts should never be operated in areas that do not have enough room to travel safely. Identifying areas in the facility where forklifts should be prohibited will help to avoid problems associated with this.

There will, of course, be a variety of other things that need to be covered in order to optimize efficiency and safety. The entire traffic control policy should be made based on the specific details of your facility in order to get the best results. Taking the time to carefully consider where indoor vehicles are used and for what will help you to come up with a comprehensive policy that will be effective.

Visual Communication for Traffic Control

It is not enough to simply come up with a policy on how and where forklifts and other vehicles should operate in the facility. You will also need to make sure to communicate the policy out to everyone. This will begin with providing training to the various teams that work in the facility. Beyond that, however, you will want to put up various visual communication items throughout the facility in order to constantly remind employees of the rules put forth in the traffic control policy.

There are many different ways that you can alert people regarding potential hazards. It is also necessary to put up these visual communications items to remind everyone of what actions they should be taking in a given situation. This is not unlike putting up traffic signs and signals, road markings, and other related things on public roads.

The following are some of the most common types of visual markings that can be put up to help ensure people are following the traffic control policies that you created for your warehouse:

  • Floor Marking Tape – Floor marking tape will serve to let forklift operators know where they need to be. This will help prevent them from accidentally running into a wall or other items that are outside of the floor markings. Floor marking tape can also be easily seen by people walking in the area and remind them to stay out of a high-traffic area.
  • Floor Marking Signs – There are some places in a facility where a standup sign will not be practical. For these types of situations, you can place floor marking signs on the ground. These signs are typically highly visible to operators of forklifts and other vehicles.
  • Glow in the Dark Floor Marking Tape – If you have areas that are not well-lit but still need to have forklifts or other vehicles operating in the area, using glow in the dark floor marking tape is a great option. You could also use reflective tape for added visibility.
  • Traffic Control SignsUsing traffic control signs, like stop signs, is a proven way to let forklift operators know what actions they need to take to stay safe. The advantages of this type of thing have been proven on public roads and is just as important for safety in the workplace.

There are, of course, a variety of other types of visual communication items that you can use to get the desired results. Signs, labels, safety tape, and other related things are often used throughout a facility to convey information quickly and easily. Using it as part of your traffic control strategy can be very effective.

Constant Review and Updates

Once you have a good traffic control policy in place to improve your forklift safety, it is important that you constantly evaluate it and update it when necessary. This should be done annually at the very least, but if you make any significant changes in the facility, you should also take the time to update your traffic controls. By making sure that your facility always has the right policies in place for keeping people safe when working on or around forklifts and other vehicles, you will be able to minimize the risk of accidents, which can help to keep everyone as safe as possible.

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