New figures from the Governors Highway Safety Association show a plateau in pedestrian deaths, making 2017 a second consecutive year of record-high numbers. This report comes on the heels of another recent estimate by the National Safety Council that all motor vehicle-related deaths have only gone down about 1% nationwide. In 2017, there were 40,100 deaths from vehicles. Companies can help curb workplace pedestrian and vehicle injuries and deaths through simple visual communication tools and resources.
“The price we are paying for mobility is 40,000 lives each year,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in the council’s statement. “This is a stark reminder that our complacency is killing us. The only acceptable number is zero; we need to mobilize a full court press to improve roadway safety.”
OSHA requires permanent aisles and passageways be free from obstructions and have markings where mechanical handling equipment is in use [29 CFR 1910.176(a)]. To help ensure pedestrian and vehicle safety:
- Practice defensive driving: Workers driving forklifts and other work vehicles should buckle up, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. Remind workers that cell phones should not be used while driving company equipment and to use the vehicle’s safety features consistently.
- Check visual communication: Ensure paths for pedestrians and vehicle traffic are clearly marked inside a building as well as outside. Fix worn floor paths immediately and optimize floor marking solutions. Install visual cues that grab attention, such as stop signs at blind corners or anti-slip tape on sloped areas. Ensure there is adequate space to separate pedestrians from lift trucks.
- Perform a job hazard analysis: Walk the route. Check for path clutter and to spot areas that might require a spotter. If a path is blocked by a lifted load, remind pedestrian workers not to pass underneath. Assess areas for signage needs, such as speed limits, authorization areas, and load limit areas.
Eliminate preventable deaths at work through leadership, education, and training. Safeguard employees against pedestrian and vehicle hazards with the help of visual communication. Warn pedestrians and other workers to pay attention to forklift traffic. Create a cautious environment by using signs, labels, and floor marking. Mark forklift movement zones to ensure safety and help bring order to any facility.