Hazard Alert: Pedestrian Workers Killed by Forklifts

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Summary Statement

This Hazard Alert describes the danger of injury during forklift use and steps to reduce associated risks.
September 2017

What is the hazard?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are approximately 85 fatalities and 34,900 serious injuries due to forklift use annually1, and $135 million in immediate costs are incurred.2 Between the years 2015-2016, 4 pedestrian workers were killed in forklift-related incidents in Kentucky.

Examples of pedestrian– related forklift fatalities that occurred in Kentucky include:

man driving a forklift, lifting a pallet fron a truck

Case 1: A 17-year-old employee (the victim) was riding on the side of a single-occupant rough-terrain forklift, driven by a 19-year-old coworker. Intending to open a nearby gate, the victim jumped from the forklift before it was fully stopped. The rear tire caught his foot, fatally rolling over his torso.

Case 2: A forklift operator was moving a load, while the victim, on foot, was standing next to a dumpster. The forklift accelerated in reverse, striking a door frame, and pinning the victim between the forklift and dumpster.

Case 3: The victim was working on the hydraulic system of a forklift, standing beneath the forks, when the carriage fell on him.


  • Designate separate paths for pedestrian and forklift travel.
  • Restrict pedestrian activity in forklift operating areas.
  • Provide pedestrian safety training to all employees who may be exposed to forklifts and other vehicles.
  • Ensure all forklift operators are trained and certified, per CFR 1910.178(l).


  • Limit travel speed.
  • Slow down, stop, and sound horn when approaching a corner, intersection, or anywhere that vision may be obstructed.
  • Never allow a passenger on the forklift unless the forklift is designed to accommodate passengers.
  • Do not place any body parts beneath the load or mast.


  • Maintain a safe distance from forklifts.
  • Always ensure the operator is aware of your position; make eye contact when possible.
  • Exercise caution when walking near corners and intersections.
  • Never enter pedestrianrestricted zones.
  • Wear high-visibility clothing.
  • Never walk under raised forks.
Additional Resources
Resource Description Link

Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) - Inspections—eTool

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

29 CFR 1910.178(g)(7) requires that all forklifts be inspected daily before being operated. This OSHA eTool provides requirements and best practices for such an inspection. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/ pit/operations/ servicing.html#preoperation

Case Report: Teen Laborer Rides on Side of Forklift, Falls While Jumping, and is Run Over by Rear Tire

KY FACE Program

Full occupational fatality investigation report for Case 1. http://www.mc.uky.edu/kiprc/face/ reports/pdf/15KY067.pdf

Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Safety resource provided by NIOSH addressing forklift pedestrian and driver safety. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ docs/2001-109/default.html

Forklift Toolbox Talk

Center for Construction Research and Training

A toolbox talk worksheet to provide to employees. https://www.cpwr.com/sites/default/ files/publications/ CPWR_Forklift_0.pdf

Bar graph, Occupational Forklift Operation Fatalities by Industry Sector, Kentucky, 2000-2015. Manufacturing totals 28.5%, Transportation & Warehousing totals 18.2%, Construction totals 12.1 %, Retail Trade- 9.1%, Wholesale Trade- 6.1%, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing- 6.1%. The source is the KY Database, produced by KIPRC, a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department of Public Health Bar graph: Types of Fatal Forklift Incidents, Kentucky, 2000-2015. Struck by falling material - 30.3%, Struck or run over by forklift- 24.2%, Crushed by vehicle tipping over- 18.2%, Fall from platform on the forks-12.1%, Other- 6.1%, Crushed between vehicle &surface- 6.1%, Crushed between two vehicles- 3%. The source is the KY Database, produced by KIPRC, a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department of Public Health

FACE Program, September 2017

Contact FACE:

Kentucky FACE Program
333 Waller Avenue Suite 242
Lexington, KY 40504

Toll Free: 800-204-3223 | Local: 859-257-5839
Email: kyfaceprogram@uky.edu
Website: http://www.mc.uky.edu/kiprc/face/index.html


Produced by the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program, Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

This project was funded by grant 2U60OH008483-13 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


1Proposed Rules—Powered Industrial Truck Operator Training. OSHA.
2Towards Improved Forklift Safety. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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