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10 proven best practices for managing safety around lifting devices

Loading docks are one of the busiest spots in any workplace, with trucks, trailers, pedestrians, lifting devices and other equipment regularly moving in and out of the area. These activities often extend into other parts of the workplace, including storage and manufacturing areas, delivery yards, and even retail floor space. How do you keep lifting device operators, other workers, visitors and customers safe amid all this activity?

"You need a plan," says WSPS technical services specialist Chuck Leon. He's not alone:

  • the most recent version of CSA B335 - Safety standard for lift trucks addresses pedestrian hazards in three sections: 4.9.4 Pedestrian Safety, Facility design, and Traffic Management
  • Ministry of Labour inspectors are increasingly issuing work orders for traffic management plans under the Occupational Health and Safety Act’s general duty clause for employers.

As a voting member of the CSA B335-15 technical committee, chair of a CSA B334-1 sub-committee, and a frequent consultant to WSPS member firms, Leon knows all the ins and outs of lifting device safety. In fact, he'll be sharing best practices at WSPS's national Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, April 26-27, in Mississauga, ON. Leon offered to share some of these best practices with WSPS Network News readers in advance of the session.

"Traffic management plans help workplaces operate more safely and efficiently," says Leon. They reduce the risk of potential lift truck incidents involving pedestrians, other vehicles and racking systems. Plus, they help eliminate bottlenecks, slowdowns and other barriers to the efficient movement of goods and people.

10 best practices for managing safety around lifting devices

Here are just a few of the best practices Leon will be discussing at his conference session.

  1. Know the risks. Map the flow of lifting devices and pedestrians, identify all potential contact points, and assess contact risks.
  2. Involve workers in identifying risks and solutions. Workers can often tell you where the biggest problems are and offer cost-effective alternatives.
  3. Separate forklift traffic and pedestrians wherever possible. Identify no-pedestrian zones, install traffic barriers and safety gates, and designate safe areas and walkways for pedestrians. Determine which employees need to be in traffic areas, and which don’t. In retail outlets, block off aisles when using a lifting device, or schedule the movement of goods for when people are least likely to be around.
  4. Establish traffic rules for lift trucks and pedestrians. Designate routes, speed limits, rights of way, etc.
  5. Create traffic routes with a goal of minimizing contact among lifting devices and pedestrians. Eliminate blind corners. Install motion sensor, safety gates and other traffic management devices.
  6. Practice good housekeeping. Remove any hazards that obstruct travel paths or visibility, such as pallet stacks. Clean up spills promptly to prevent skidding or loss of steering control.
  7. Maximize visibility for forklift operators and pedestrians with lighting, mirrors, horns, alarms, flashing lights, high visibility vests, etc.
  8. Minimize driver and pedestrian distractions from handheld electronic devices, hands-free cell phones, headphones, iPods, and food and beverages. Designate areas where these devices can and can’t be used.
  9. Provide awareness training for lifting device operators and pedestrians so they understand the hazards and their role in preventing injuries.
  10. Enforce all rules and procedures.

How WSPS can help

  • WSPS’ material handling specialists can help you create or upgrade a traffic management plan for your workplace. We also offer related consulting services, such as conducting hazard assessments and developing customized training programs.