Gabrielle Connolly, CSP

Enhancing forklift and pedestrian safety with computer vision

February 15, 2023
Content

Forklifts are perhaps one of the most commonly used tools in today’s workplace environment. From heavy manufacturing to retail store rooms, forklifts help teams safely move heavy loads across facilities. However, the risks of operating a forklift near pedestrians are often misunderstood or overlooked.

Understanding the risks of operating a forklift near pedestrians

Although smaller than a car, forklifts weigh on average about 9,000 lbs and can weigh upwards of 20,000 lbs in some configurations. Their agility and size can cause frontline workers to underestimate the damage that can be done during a collision or tip-over. Even minor forklift collisions, especially with pedestrians, can cause severe injuries like fractures, sprains, and strains. The National Safety Council reported that forklift accidents accounted for 7,290 days away and restricted cases in 2020 alone. 

Administrative controls like forklift/pedestrian mapping and creating forklift or pedestrian-restricted areas have been common attempts to help curb these risks.

However, outside of occasional audits, it is hard to validate that these controls are helping to eliminate the risk of pedestrian forklift interaction. Typically the gaps of faulty pedestrian forklift controls are only captured via near-miss reporting where data is limited. However, the use of computer vision technology can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the risks.

The Power of computer vision in safety management

Using computer vision, Intenseye’s “dynamic delimitation” use case is able to identify instances where forklifts and pedestrians are interacting within a defined proximity. This type of data not only alerts EHS teams to uncaptured near misses but helps to build effective forklift/pedestrian maps and identify risky and safe zones. Intenseye is able to alert EHS teams to these unsafe behaviors in real-time via SMS, email, or integration with a smart speaker. The true quantification of pedestrian-forklift interaction allows EHS teams to understand their true risk profile. 

Outside of alerting and quantifying unsafe acts and conditions, Inteseye is going a step further. Using the heat map feature, users are able to visually identify where in their facility near misses and unsafe behaviors are occurring.

Often a large percentage of forklift-pedestrian behaviors are safe, with unsafe scenarios happening as a result of a facility where risk was not correctly identified. Intenseye is able to collect a large subset of data and trend these into heat map views of your facility.

These maps quickly highlight areas of concern. Armed with this information, site teams are able to unbiasedly evaluate the effectiveness of their current controls, and operate on a model of continuous auditing and improving these controls.

Outside of traditional engineering and administrative controls, many companies are turning to computer vision to elevate their vehicle safety program. Leveraging technology will be the theme of the next wave in safety management, and its possibilities are vast.

By leveraging technology, companies can make significant progress in enhancing forklift and pedestrian safety, making the workplace a safer place for everyone. Leaders who are using this technology to help improve safety at their sites are uncovering previously unseen issues, and quickly rectifying and auditing their effectiveness. Intenseye is one promising tool leaders should add to their toolbox when thinking about improving forklift and pedestrian safety. 

To learn more about us and utilize computer vision for forklift and pedestrian safety, schedule a demo with us.

References

injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/safety-topics/forkliftstxmotive.com/blog/forklift-weight