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Separating pedestrians and forklifts

Accident Investigation

Accident in the news

A seafood processing company based in Scotland has been fined after a worker died following injuries sustained when she was run over by a forklift

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Karen Allen, an employee of QA Fish Ltd, suffered significant leg injuries as a pedestrian, following a vehicular collision in Scalloway, Shetland.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Police Scotland found that no site-specific workplace transport risk assessment had been carried out. The use of the forklift truck was critical for the function of the business and the company failed to provide suitable and sufficient control measures to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner in the exterior of the premises, particularly with regards to the forklift truck.

The company failed to implement effective arrangements for the management of health and safety and also failed to act on the advice of a health and safety consultant several years prior to the incident.

QA Fish Ltd of Blackness Pier, Shetland pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £80,000, to be paid within 12 months.

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Connor Gibson said: “The tragic outcome of this incident clearly highlights why duty holders must ensure that vehicle and pedestrian movements at their work site are properly assessed and adequately controlled.

“This fatal incident could and should have been prevented via suitable and sufficient control measures segregating pedestrians from vehicle movements.”

Segregating pedestrians and forklifts

All sites must have systems in place to keep pedestrians and co-workers safe from workplace transport and the best way of doing this is by physical separation.

Creating a Traffic Management System

A full Traffic Management System (TMS) – based on a site-specific risk assessment – should be in place. Completed correctly, it will play a vital role in reducing accidents and near misses.  

When drawing up a site layout the priority should be the safety of pedestrians and co-workers.

Key Considerations

  • Pedestrian routes and work areas – these should be clearly defined and based on the movement of traffic and personnel around the site.
  • Floor markings, signs and coloured walkways – these should be used to identify the pedestrian routes.
  • Minimum width – this should be 600 mm; 1,200 mm for wheelchairs; and between 750 to 1,050 mm at emergency exits.
  • Lighting – there should be adequate lighting in all locations, especially at the transition points, e.g. where trucks are moving from bright sunlight into a building.
  • Vehicle-free areas – these should be clearly defined.
  • Space – when considering vehicle routes through the workplace, there should be enough space for the largest vehicle to load and unload.
  • Traffic controls – these may be required in certain locations e.g. blind bends or pedestrian crossing points.
  • One-way traffic system – this is the preferred option, with proper consideration given to reversing and packing areas.
  • Signage and physical barriers – these should be used to indicate where pedestrians are excluded and should be strong enough to absorb the energy of dynamic impact and high enough to prevent vehicles from riding over them.

Additional takeaways

Training for operators is fundamental in reducing accidents but managers and supervisors overseeing materials handling operations also require training to understand their responsibilities and recognise best practice.

+++ STOP PRESS +++

Don’t miss the UKMHA Safety Convention 2022

Looking for expert input on how you can improve operator safety on site?

Your first step is operator training and at this year’s UKMHA Safety Convention on 17th November, we will be gathering some of the biggest names in the industry to share their insights on how to help your operators get the most from their training, and why it is crucial to ensure your business meets its moral and legal obligations.

You’ll come away with practical tips and learn from the real-world experiences of major companies and training providers, plus discover some of the latest safety products and services at our Safety Exhibition.

To see the full line up speakers and book tickets visit www.ukmha.org.uk/ukmha-safety-convention-2022-operator-training

Launch of Safe Working Area Charter

The UKMHA Safety Convention will see the launch of the Safe Working Area Charter which stipulates that all engineers must be provided with a safe area in which to carry out their work and outlines the specific requirements of such zones.

All those who have engineers attending their sites are being encouraged to sign up to the new charter and demonstrate their commitment to helping the Association improve standards.

Find out more

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