A lift truck operating in reverse strikes an unsuspecting pedestrian, a transport truck backs up to a loading dock and pins a worker against the wall, a pedestrian walking outside in the yard without high visibility clothing is struck by a driver during low light conditions; these are just three examples of incidents involving employees struck by vehicles and mobile equipment that are moving or reversing.
Struck-by hazards are the subject of a Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development compliance initiative taking place from May 1 to June 30, 2022.
"The main focus of this cross-sector initiative is likely to be on the safe operation of vehicles and mobile equipment, and the prevention of struck-by injuries," says Norm Kramer, WSPS Warehouse & Distribution Specialist. This cross-sector initiative could send inspectors into warehouses and distribution centres, manufacturing facilities, big box stores, convention centres, and any other workplace with active storage, shipping and receiving areas and loading docks. These inspectors have the power to issue orders or bring work to a halt.
Vehicles or mobile equipment that move materials in the workplace include walkie riders, manual pallet jacks, electric pallet jacks, lift trucks, cranes, and trucks in outside yards, says Norm. Typically, incidents occur because of limited visibility, distraction, loss of control, inadequate separation of pedestrians and mobile equipment, narrow aisles, and lack of training and enforcement.
“A traffic management and pedestrian safety plan can help protect employers and workers from incidents inside and outside of the workplace, by establishing traffic routes and rules, maximizing visibility, adding markings and signage, providing training and enforcement, and more.”
4 steps to prevent struck-by injuries
In advance of the compliance initiative, Norm offers these tips for preventing injuries.
1. Conduct a hazard assessment. When performing the assessment,
- review incident reports, identify root causes, and look for gaps in your existing program or training.
- tour the workplace to identify high risk areas where people and mobile equipment are mixing. Take photos.
- watch traffic flow and how people drive. Are they following policy, procedures and training guidelines?
- consider visibility and line of sight.
- meet with internal staff, joint health and safety committee members, and mobile equipment and truck operators. Ask about issues of concern. Is visibility adequate? Are close calls occurring? Are people following safety rules?
2. Identify gaps. "For example, the assessment may identify that floor lines are fading, signs are obscured, housekeeping isn't up to snuff, the workplace culture doesn't support following safe practices, enforcement efforts are lacking, productivity is more valued than safety, and so on."
3. Consider COVID impacts. "Equipment operators, pedestrians and other workers must be able to apply their senses in order to respond in a safe manner," says Norm. Take into account unintended effects of wearing standard hearing protection and COVID-related personal protective equipment (PPE). "Wearing masks may muffle speech or cause glasses to fog up, so that it could be harder for operators and pedestrians to see or communicate with each other."
The pandemic has also left many businesses short staffed, says Norm. As a result, new staff may be inexperienced, and employees may receive less supervision, which is key to implementing and reinforcing safety rules.
4. Develop and implement solutions. "For example, if employees are unclear who has the right of way at intersections, use familiar roadway markings - red lights/green lights, stop signs, and crosswalk markings. If PPE is a problem, ensure that equipment operators and pedestrians wear the right PPE, such as fog proof lenses. Consider ergonomic solutions such as line of sight improvements. Clearly communicate your "safety first" culture to all employees and provide additional competency training for supervisors.
How WSPS can help
- Mobile equipment job aids
- Articles and Videos
- Hazard assessment resources
To view a full suite of resources, visit the Motor Vehicle & Powered Equipment resource page.
The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.