Reducing pedestrian risk is a top safety priority in industrial facilities. Signage, floor markings, designated pedestrian crosswalks, and physical barriers are key elements in improving on-site safety in warehouses and industrial workplaces. Types of vehicle-related accidents include being struck by forklifts, other vehicles, or falling loads, as well as the dangers associated with collapsed shelving or toppled pallets—but, these incidents can be reduced with proper floor markings, signage, and training. To improve on-site pedestrian safety, consider these tips and requirements.
Use Visual Cues to Identify Pedestrian-Specific Zones
Take a cue from the rules of the road: Separating foot and vehicular traffic keeps employees safe by reducing areas where pedestrians and forklifts meet. Well-labeled pedestrian walkways encourage employees and visitors to use designated areas while crossing through a warehouse or industrial facility, rather than taking dangerous shortcuts.
Mark blind zones, corners, crossing lanes, and other hazards in traveled areas using signage and floor tape. The presence of these visual cues increases awareness for employees both on foot and behind the wheel.
Be Precise in Your Instructions
Caution and Warning tape provides more impact when it includes clear, informative text. While truck or forklift drivers have a responsibility to keep pedestrians safe, pedestrians share the work by staying alert and checking their surroundings before proceeding. Clear directions are important: Instructions such as ‘Stop, Look, Proceed’ add a layer of safety over less specific right-of-way signage.
Include additional notices: Remind employees to make eye contact with the driver and wait for confirmation before proceeding. Forklift operators have obligations as well. Post signs stating requirements to yield, or to slow down, stop, and sound the horn at intersections when the view is obstructed.
Designate Walking Areas and Pedestrian Crosswalks
OSHA requires separate walkways for pedestrians and lift traffic. Clearly marked lanes meet this requirement, but a physical barrier to separate traffic is a safety solution that exceeds the specifications. Railings or other boundaries keep pedestrians out of dangerous areas, are a physical reminder to avoid dangerous shortcuts, and limit access to restricted areas or forklift lanes.
Designate foot traffic locations in forklift and vehicle zones, and indicate crossing areas to limit where foot and vehicle traffic cross. Consider traffic patterns, blind spots, and corners when assigning specific crossing zones and walkways. Crosswalks should be placed in convenient areas so pedestrians are more likely to use them. Ensure crosswalk and walkway locations are installed where views are unobstructed: They should not be obscured by shelving or stacks of pallets so pedestrians and drivers have a clear view.
Parking lots require pedestrian crosswalks, too. Reflective crosswalk pavement marking tape installs easily in parking lots. Improve crosswalk visibility when you pair floor or pavement markings with vertical barricades. Elevated crossways keep vehicles and foot traffic entirely separate.
Provide clear floor markings such as crosswalk lines and repeating safety messages at loading docks, as well. Lift truck drivers have limited visual range, even without a full load. Consider read end swing, stopping distance, and required turning radius when marking floors at loading docks and throughout the facility.
Improve pedestrian safety with these additional considerations:
- Use pallet corner markers to ensure pallets don’t encroach on traveled lanes
- One-way traveled lanes are ideal for less congested traffic flow
- Avoid placing pallets at the ends of rows for improved driver visibility
- Require spotters in congested or busy areas
- Use mirrors at corners to improve visibility
- Post signage to communicate speed limit, safety reminders, and traffic control requirements
Additional Pedestrian Safety Considerations for Industrial Facilities
Facility-wide restrictions keep employees and visitors safe. Forklift drivers face obstructed views, increased stopping distance, and limited maneuverability. Pedestrians must remain aware. Implement facility-wide requirements that contribute to overall safety; the following ideas are a good place to start.
Limit Distractions for Improved Safety
Earbuds can prevent pedestrians from hearing vehicles or horns, which can create a dangerous situation. To ensure improve safety, remind all staff to avoid auditory distractions while in the warehouse or in parking lots. Similarly, the distractions caused by texting or browsing on a phone can lead to vehicle-related accidents—remind staff both on foot or behind the wheel that cell phones impact safety.
Safety Gear Increases Visibility
Reflective vests and safety clothing improve visibility so drivers can spot pedestrians and employees more easily, especially throughout warehouses and at loading docks. Additionally, devices such as mirrors, reflective markings, and additional lighting boost safety at intersections and blind corners.
Reinforce the Rules to Improve Compliance
Provide regular training and reminders for employees to reinforce safety requirements, such as crossing only at crosswalks, remaining on marked walkways, or reminders of how to proceed at a crossing area.
Training goes both ways: Ensure forklift operators understand and comply with traffic rules, signage, and load limits. If a load is too heavy, it may lead to steering or turning issues, spills, or tips, putting the operator and employees at risk.
Improve pedestrian safety through a combination of floor markings, barriers, signage, and training. Follow regulations for walking-working surfaces to determine which floor markings or crosswalks your facility needs, and explore our Resource Center for safety and installation tips.