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Creating a Safe Walkway

In a physical battle between man vs. machine, the machine is going to win…especially when that machine is a rolling piece of equipment weighing thousands of Kgs. Hoping pedestrians and operators are smart enough to avoid a tragic incident is not an acceptable – or highly effective – safety precaution. 


What can be done to ensure the safety of pedestrians, the most vulnerable employees in a warehouse.

One of the most important things you can do as a warehouse operation manager or safety manager is to control exactly where pedestrians are walking while in your warehouse.  Making pedestrian travel paths predictable helps to ensure fork lift operators know where  the high foot-traffic areas are. Simply saying, “Stay close to the wall,” or “Don’t cross over there,” is not enough for warehouse labour. There is no substitute for a physical barrier.

The first thing you will want to do is designate the painted walkway, physically separating your people and machines using rails. EnduRail ®/ FlexiCade® make it easy for you to erect an OSHA-compliant barrier in varying lengths or configurations.

Set time aside to train employees the purpose of the walkways, the hazards they face if they were to travel outside of them, and what the disciplinary action will be if they violate rules (whether as a pedestrian or as an operator).  No safety procedure is going to be successful if there are no consequences for those that do not follow it.

It is important to note that you will not be able to have walkways everywhere pedestrians need to walk. Just like teaching a child to look both ways before crossing a street, ensure they understand that forklifts have the right of way because they simply may not be able to stop immediately due to load and speed. Also, pedestrians need to always ensure the forklift operator is completely aware of their presence before continuing by making eye contact with the operator. Teach your employees not to place themselves immediately behind any machine or between any machine and a fixed object like a wall. You never know when an operator is going to lose control, hit the accelerator instead of the brake, or back up when they mean to go forward.

single side openable safety gates

You still cannot control access to undesignated or more dangerous areas, where your walkway crosses a highly traveled forklift path, you may choose to install single side openable safety gates.  These gates force the pedestrian to pause and ensure it is safe to proceed.  Currently walking and texting, physically preventing people from wandering into traffic has become a sad necessity.

Finally, make sure you know who is wandering through your warehouse.  This is your facility.  Ensure that anybody who sets foot in it goes home safely when they leave.