Pedestrian Safety – Who Has Right of Way? – Forklift Safety Newsletter – March 2014

Who has right of way - pedestrian safety or forklift safety?

Pedestrian safety and forklift safety go hand and hand. Many people feel that pedestrians have right of way since they would, most likely, suffer severe injury if there was

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What is your policy for pedestrian safety in the workplace?

a collision. But does pedestrian safety mean they have right of way? Does that mean they can step out in front of a loaded, moving forklift and expect that the forklift operator will be able to stop in time just because they have right of way? Doesn’t make much sense does it.

Our streets have sidewalks with stop signs and signals to regulate vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrian traffic. So it makes sense that there should be guidelines to regulate pedestrian safety and forklift traffic. The fact is that pedestrians and forklifts often share the same work area. And as such they need to be respectful of each other.

OSHA doesn’t specify who has right of way. It is the responsibility of the company to establish company rules that protect both the pedestrian and forklift operator.

Ways to improve pedestrian safety and forklift safety:

  • Train forklift operators AND pedestrians on your companies right of way rules.
  • Create pedestrian walkways or other means to separate pedestrians and forklifts when possible.
  • Rather than merely requiring eye contact between forklift operator and pedestrian, the pedestrian should wait until the forklift operator gestures for the pedestrian to pass by. That way nobody will say “I thought you saw me!”
  • Create workplace stacking rules. For example, where can you stack product, how high, how close to work stations and pedestrian walkways, etc.
  • Ensure that all forklift operators are fully trained and certified to operate the type of forklift they are using.
  • Require pedestrians to wear safety vests in high hazard areas and maintain a safe distance away from forklifts of at least 6 feet.
  • Train pedestrians on forklift visibility issues.


If you would like to share your experiences/photos of forklift incidents that can educate others on the principles of safe forklift operation please send them to:

We will not publish company or individuals names.

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Bruce Hulberg February 10, 2016
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