Poorly controlled hazards impede growth and reduce productivity.
How can a potentially unsafe situation be stopped? A commonly held view in ergonomics and safety management is that there are three general ways:
1. Remove the hazard - by designing it out. As will be seen throughout this guidebook this might involve designing the permitted routes of forklifts so that they never come into contact with pedestrians.
2. Guard the hazard - to stop the problem occurring. This may be by placing a physical barrier between forklifts and pedestrians, or fitting pressure sensors on the forklift to prevent vehicle overloading.
3. Warn of the danger - to try to induce safe behaviour. This might range from painting pedestrian walkway zones on the flooring of forklift environments to general safety notices.
It is a ‘hierarchy of effectiveness’. Removing the hazard is usually more effective than guarding it, which in turn is more effective than warnings. There is, not surprisingly, a correlation between effectiveness and cost of implementation.
Again, this emphasizes the importance of good initial workplace design. For companies that have an existing forklift safety problem then the issues are more complex, and a longer-term safety strategy might be necessary to recover the costs likely to be needed for extensive (and expensive. redesigns.