How to Use Safety Measures to Reduce Lift Truck Accident Damage

Like busy freeways, plants and warehouses have squeezed more traffic into less space as the cost of real estate has risen. With products and equipment packed tighter, operating with more just-in-time logistics, the risk of lift truck impact is greater than ever today. That puts your people, production, and assets at risk.

OSHA estimates that 68,400 powered industrial truck accidents occur annually. About 95,000 workers suffer some kind of injuries in these accidents, resulting in lost production, facility damage, and compensation claims.

As plant managers try to bring as much rack and material into the warehouse as possible, lift trucks run tighter in the aisles, making impact more likely. Even the best operations can expect some lift truck impact, so it is important to minimize damage and production down time with proper safety equipment.

Pallet Rack Protection

Most of the damage to warehouse pallet racks occurs at the row end, where lift truck operators turn into aisles. If they miscalculate the corner, they will swing into the rack.

Rack damage is also common along an upright’s first six to 12 inches of column from the floor, particularly at tunnels, drive-throughs, and intersections, where maneuvering is tight. Additional damage can occur when forklift operators push pallets against end row uprights, which can bend the diagonal or horizontal bracing.

To prevent damage from at end rows and intersections, install low-profile, high-strength, safety steel angle. To be most effective in these areas, the safety steel angle should protect upright columns, and offer right, left, or double-ended guards so it works with virtually all end row racks.

Such protection can be particularly important in freezer applications where space is restricted, floors can be slippery, and reaction times are slower.

Whole Facility Protection

For more universal plant and warehouse protection from lift truck damage, more comprehensive, pre-engineered industrial guard railing systems offer more complete safety. These applications can range from worker, production, inventory, and loading areas to walkways, aisles, mezzanines, and in-plant offices.

Industrial guard railings serve as a visual and physical barrier between staging and work areas, including machinery such as conveyors, computer consoles, electrical panels, HVAC equipment, and freezer-cooler controls.

Commercially available guard railing systems have a few advantages over in-house fabrications:

  • Lower cost due to mass component production
  • Easier installation (no core drilling, cutting, welding, or painting is required)
  • Pre-engineered, pre-fabricated guard railing systems are specifically designed for lift truck impact. They are also modular, expandable, and relocatable, and individual parts can be replaced if damaged.

Guard Railing System Specification

Two easy comparisons are price and value. Since the rail will take the brunt of any lift truck impacts, you should compare the rail height, depth, and gauge or wall thickness. How many ribs or corrugations does the rail have? Is the rail edge closed, or is it open? Open edges usually require you to install a protective plastic stripping to cover the sharp edges of the steel.

Overall, when selecting what type of rail guards you need, the most important thing is to find a balance between heavy construction, purchase price, value, and ease of installation.

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