Improving the Safety of Your Forklift Fleet with Better Signs and Posting
In warehouses and storage facilities, forklift safety is crucial. Poor operator habits, cluttered traffic lanes, and unmarked hazards can result in injuries, product loss, equipment damage, and inefficient operation — bad news for any operation.
Adequate signage can help to limit accidents and keep your employees safe. Keep these tips in mind to improve safety while enhancing productivity.
Warn Pedestrians and Forklift Operators About Hazards.
Depending on the size of the lift truck, the operator may be completely unable to see pedestrians right away, and most forklifts won’t stop on a dime. Likewise, equipment, materials, and other lift trucks are hazardous obstacles, and even if they’re present every day, they need to be properly marked.
If an area has regular forklift traffic, pedestrians need to know that they don’t have the right of way. Exclusive traffic lanes (areas that should never have pedestrian traffic) and parking zones should always have caution or danger signs. Keep signage displayed at eye level and make sure that each sign is properly lit. Clean signs regularly and make sure that they’re legible; post signs regularly so that workers will see them throughout the traffic lanes.
Clearly Mark Forklift Traffic Lanes.
Floor tapes can be used to demarcate traffic lanes in high-traffic areas, greatly reducing the likelihood of an accidental forklift strike or collision. Clear demarcation is also required by OSHA standard 1910.22.
Use durable floor tape that will be clearly visible to the operator and to pedestrians, and use appropriately colored tapes; yellow designates aisleways and paths of egress, while black-and-yellow tape warns workers to take caution in areas that pose physical risks. You should also mark off production equipment, materials, and other obstacles for the benefit of forklift operators.
Identify Hazards in the Battery Room.
In many facilities, the forklift battery room is a high-traffic area. Signage isn’t a substitute for proper organization and cable management, so start by looking for ways to keep traffic lanes clear.
In a well-maintained battery room, signage will call attention to hazards — high voltage connections, the presence of corrosive liquids, and other common safety issues — and help to prevent workers from taking unnecessary risks. Proper signage can also reduce the chances of equipment damage, extending the life of your fleet.
Signs should designate the room as a battery charging area and point out the locations of eye wash stations. Workers should be cautioned that forklifts are present and that unauthorized personnel should stay clear of the area. Prominent “No Smoking” signs are essential. Choose signs with large, iconic graphics that can be easily understood with a quick glance.
OSHA battery room signage requirements are detailed in standard number 1926.441. Your battery room signage should also maintain compliance with relevant ANSI regulations for color codes and symbology (detailed in ANSI Z535.1 and Z535.3 respectively), and have appropriate chemical and moisture resistance. In the United States, battery room signs should also comply with NFPA 70E.
When ordering signage, you should also look for products made with quality materials and laminated surfaces. This ensures that your signs will remain bright and legible with regular cleanings, reducing the risk of an accidental code violation. A full signage and posting kit can allow you to easily improve your signage, and any extra signs can be stored for later use.
When combined with structural barriers, floor tape, and other safety essentials, signage is a powerful tool. According to OSHA, the number of forklift accidents in the United States is truly staggering — 11 percent of all forklifts are involved with some sort of accident each year, although the majority of those accidents are classified as non-serious. Signage protects your workers, your equipment, and your operation as a whole, and it’s a worthwhile investment regardless of the size of your facility.
"ANSI Z535 Brief Description of All Six Standards and Safety Color Chart." NEMA. Web. 16 July 2015.
"Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics." Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Web. 16 July 2015.
"Document Information Pages (list of NFPA Codes & Standards)." NFPA 70E. National Fire Prevention Association. Web. 16 July 2015.
“Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts.” The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001. Web. 30 June 2015.