When it comes to forklift accidents, forklift operators are most often blamed. Many companies holding training sessions for the driver after each accident. However, recent investigations found that up to 25 percent of forklift accidents are not caused by the driver. In fact most accidents were from environmental factors that are controllable. Only when the real causes of forklift accidents are known can businesses eliminate hazards and design a safe operating environment. An essential tool in reducing forklift accidents are safety lights. We highly recommend the use of our Blue Spotlights, Red Zone Lights, & Arc (Halo) Lights to increase pedestrian visibility of forklifts. These lights have revolutionized the forklift safety industry.
A Safety Story:
If safety lights had been a part of the canning plant where John Black worked a few years ago, he might not have been injured on the job. It was a Friday morning and Black was on his way to the storeroom. He stopped and talked to a coworker who ran the palletizer. During their conversation, a forklift struck Black from behind, breaking his hip. Insurance investigators determined the forklift driver wasn’t watching where he was going. To add insult to injury, the incident report criticized Black for not paying attention.
The canning plant had a history of forklift accidents, each one reportedly caused by forklift operator error. However, a second investigation revealed other contributing factors. This investigation found that light readings at the canning plant’s warehouse measured 5 candlepower. Far below acceptable light levels for general operations. OSHA Inspectors also cited the company for noise violations due to sound levels measured at 100 decibels. Approximately 60% of the employees at the plant suffered hearing loss. During his eight years of employment there, Black lost 30% of his hearing capacity. The plant had no pedestrian routes, nor any protective islands. The average speed of forklift trucks through the area where the accident occurred was eight miles per hour. To make matters worse, the forklift involved in the accident didn’t have any safety lights or a back alarm.
When it comes to proper lighting in a warehouse it’s important to understand how light affects vision among people of different ages. As a person reaches the age of forty their eyes go through predictable changes. The lens becomes progressively opaque and a weakening of the muscles that control the focus of the lens. This condition continues to degenerate until a person reaches the age of sixty.
What does this have to do with lighting? Because of these changes in vision, a man in his sixties needs six times as much light to discriminate objects as a man in his twenties. As a person loses their ability to discriminate objects in dim settings, they become more sensitive to glare. A driver in a dark warehouse won’t be able to see a fellow employee or object in time to respond.
OSHA measures light in footcandle units and in lumens per square foot. They have established a minimum standard for lighting in areas where forklifts operate. Safety codes recommend the minimum light level to be 20 footcandles in warehouses. When light levels in an area are below 2 lumens per square foot, forklifts are required to use auxiliary lights. Auxiliary lighting is a complex task. Especially, since forklift trucks normally carry loads in reverse. Turn to Forklift America for safety and auxiliary lighting to keep your warehouse safer and reduce forklift accidents. Here is some additional information from OSHA Safety Lights in the warehouse.