This forklift manufacturer points the finger at two issues: Environment and Education. In other words, it's the workplace and the driver, not the forklift.
Organizations such as ASME and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have publicized the danger. (See the links in the sidebar.)
The US Department of Labor, Ministries of Labour in Canada, and health and safety associations have issued advisories.
Some standup forklift owners are resorting to installing ad hoc guarding, which may not comply with the ANSI B56.1 Safety Standard for Lift Trucks.
This only provides operators with the illusion of safety.
So, if not the forklift industry, who will take action on the underride danger?
YOU, the operator.
Talk to your supervisor, health and safety committee and your union about your options.
Above all, make sure that any solution you implement complies with the ANSI B56.1 Safety Standard.
Given the frequency and serious injuries inflicted, what is the position of the forklift manufacturers on the underride hazard?
In a letter from a major forklift manufacturer, the Director of Product Engineering wrote:
"[We] view the 'under ride' hazard as primarily an environmental issue. The hazard does not exist unless the first level horizontal rack beam is higher than the top of the forklift power section - and even if the hazard is present, the operator can avoid the hazard through careful operation, looking in the direction of travel, and maintaining control of the forklift at all times."
"[We] view the 'under ride' hazard as primarily an environmental issue . . . [and] even if the hazard is present, the operator can avoid the hazard through careful operation [and] control of the forklift at all times."
Director of Product Engineering,
Major Forklift Manufacturer
"How can the major forklift manufacturers fail to address this hazard?!" Almost everyone who sees the above video asks the same question. How indeed?
The greatest risk to a stand-up forklift operator is being involved in a collision with an immobile object, exceeding the risk of overturning.
A 2008 report by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) states that "greater than 50% of . . . 3,000 accidents studied involved a collision between a stand-up forklift and a stationary object, resulting in . . . 700 serious injuries and 22 deaths . . . of operators."
The report concludes that additional guarding, such as rear vertical posts extending from the forklift body to the overhead guard, will prevent injuries associated with horizontal intrusion collisions.
Because in the event of forklift underride, you won't have a chance!
>> Did You Know?
1 mph is less than walking speed. It's also the ANSI B56.1 Standard.
Any rear vertical post mounted on a stand up forklift must withstand the collision of a fully loaded truck travelling 1 mph.
Such a seemingly minor bump packs enormous force.
But even at lower speeds, without protection, the operator cannot brace against the oncoming weight of the forklift and load.
She won't have a chance!
We'd like to hear from you.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a forklift underride incident, or had a close call, tell us your story.