Forklift truck design – planning systems to enhance forklift safety

I have indentified a need that there is nominally a high rising “accident” rate which involves forklift trucks, with injuries and fatalities occurring to other workers and members of public who are in the area of the forklift truck whilst in use. I have chosen to design a product that could be fitted, to a forklift truck, which will improve safety and reduce “accidents” whilst a forklift truck is in use.
Resulting in taking all of the above into account my single phrase function statement being “prevent accidents” however, theirs already methods, procedures and regulations in place to try and prevent “accidents” such as regulated speed limits, sufficient training in using a forklift truck and warning fixtures such as a drivers horn, hazard light. If an accident was to occur in most cases it will be blamed as an operators fault even if the safety scheme was in place.
Employer areas of using forklift trucks, which are also known, to cause accidents.

> Lack of training or improper training of employees who operate forklift trucks.
> Time factors, having little time to carry out the job in hand causing stress and speeding.
> Lack of proper attachments and accessories.
> Wrongly tasked job of forklift truck or operators. – Not qualified, using the forklift incorrectly to do the wrong things.
> Poor maintenance of forklift trucks
Operational areas of using forklift trucks, which are prone, too cause accidents.
> Incorrect reversing techniques.
> Incorrect turning, use of space
> Incorrect use – over loading & over reaching
> Incorrect warnings to others about a forklift in use nearby, no signage or alarms/hazard lighting
> Poor contact throughout joint jobs, or in shared spaces, could this result in the need of a banks man.
> Giving rides on the forklift truck or load – also comes back to incorrect use.
> Playing games, not taking the job in hand seriously resulting in stunt driving, erratically driven
Having had a quick look at forklift trucks and the ways that they are used I have come to the decision that it would be very rare for a forklift to be involved in an “accident” due to malfunctions of the forklift truck itself but would result in the incorrect use due to operator error or areas which haven’t been covered or have been vaguely thought about by the employee.
“There are reputed to be over 8,000 reported accidents involving the use of forklift trucks in the UK each year and some of these result in fatalities. The majority of these accidents are caused by the lack of sufficient training of the operator, operator error, a lack of knowledge about the equipment and the working environment, bad truck maintenance, poor lighting conditions, inadequate gangways and unsuitable premises in which forklift trucks are used. In fact, slightly more pedestrians are injured as the result of a forklift accident than the operators themselves.”
The above statement is taken from
This statement stands by and proves what I have pointed out regarding forklift truck accidents.
Having carried out some brief research I can now focus my thoughts onto exactly what I want to be able to achieve for example demands would be things that I would need the final product to have, the principle ideas if you will. wishes, would be the additions, which we don’t exactly need but would be an added bonus.
To prevent accidents!
Easy to install alongside existing accessories
Cheap to produce
Universal fitting
Works well alongside other accessories
Looks nice
Looks original against existing product
Pedestrian safety improved
Improved driver visibility
Just from carrying out a simple task of listing demands and wishes explores areas, which are possibly endangering humans and infrastructures for example if the product we design does succeed with its demands, then the product its self with reduce risks and risk of accidents, therefore this would result in less employee time off work, less accidents and a lower risk of the health and safety executive getting involved resulting in a fine. All of these problems/potential incidents can be prevented by carrying out the correct procedures and using efficient products and accessories to do so… for example an add on product/accessories that is built and engineered to these exact demands!
Outline Specification
An outline specification specialises in exact specifications during the early stages of a design process, this being the designing of an accessory to improve the safety whilst forklifts trucks are being used. The specification is to include the need of the particular product, which can then be quantified, by converting each demand into a specific broken down form.
The functionality would be to try and improve the driver’s visibility, increase safety & awareness for pedestrians.
User interaction.
User Interaction would be visual for example – VDU Monitors so the forklift truck driver can closely examine what is going on with the truck in blind spot areas. Alarms & sensors could be also fitted so as these sound the operator will interact up on hearing these alarms and respond efficiently knowing that something or someone is potentially at risk
Physical Form.
The physical form of the product should improve the forklifts lifting capabilities and working in tight spaces.
Robustness & Operating Environment.
The product will have to be robust I,E it is going to be used in different climates, both hot, cold, wet and dusty. If electrical or electronic components are to be used these should be waterproofed in some kind of way, designing a casing that can with stand these conditions could do this. It would need to be made out of a heavy duty material due to the kind of environment being used in, to do this you could design the casing out of a heavy duty plastic or some kind of metal.
Signals of the particular unit or accessory dependant on whether it is electrical/electronic based, it should be ensured that fast response times between display & alarm units are as close to real time as possible. Having Latency type effects will delay the operators response therefore could have already caused an “accident”
Power Supply.
Depending on the type of unit a separate battery source (12VDC) could be used, charging the unit off of the existing battery package, it would charge the unit whilst in use. However this may not be very efficient, with solar powered technology becoming more and more common, a little solar panel could be fitted therefore creating its own power supply and charging its own battery source.
The final product designed would need to reach the EU standards and be CE certified, it would need to be proven that the product is safe, and is capable of carrying out the specified task
Product Failure.
If the product were to fail, it would have to be self-notifying i.e. and integrated alarm with in the unit to notify the operator that it is not working. If the product was to fail and not give any notification of doing so then the operator would still be relying on a piece of accident prevention equipment which could in fact cause an “accident”
The Product should be easy to maintain, be located in a place where it is to do so, maintaining the product would mean checking that the product is working correctly and the connections are all in order. However the product will be designed to last in excess of 5 years under normal operating conditions before it should be due a “service”
The Estimated development cost of producing this extraordinary accessory would be: �50k+ with the forklift truck product retailing at around: �350 with a DIY fitting package. However an installation and service/maintenance contract could be agreed resulting in extra income.
The schedule from designing the specified product to developing it would be roughly around 6 – 12 months. Development schedule would depend on
Function Solution Matrix:
Solution Principle
Driver Visibility
Cameras – Improving the view of driver, integrated VDU unit 1
Mirrors – Improve the drivers view
5 Second reverse delay – Giving the driver a good chance to look round 2
Restricted speeds for built up area – Reducing the risk of accidents/crashes1
Pedestrian Visibility
High-Visibility color’s – Another way of enforcing the forklift trucks visibility 1
High intensity lights & Alarms – making people aware of the use of a forklift truck 2
Cordoned off areas/hot spots – reduces the risk of accidents to humans
Object sensors
Laser Sensors – limit speed of forklift truck depending on how close an object is to the truck, alerting driver
Infra Red sensors – limit speed of forklift truck depending on how close an object is to the truck, alerting driver
Solution one is rather complex when compared to solution two because it contains more electronic components This means that it may be of a higher potential to fail as there is more that could go wrong. However it would ensure that forklifts trucks that would be lifting more abnormal heavy loads the operator would be easily informed
In comparison to solution one, the second solution is much more simple approach to satisfying the specification set. With this would bring better reliability however the product wouldn’t be original. The use standardized alarms and hazard lights should be set as a standard, the more complex clever device is the 5-second reverse delay unit. This would delay the operation from putting the forklift truck into reverse giving the operator enough time to check and look around, investigating at this point in time the best route to take and look for instructions The unit would be an all in one manufactured unit in 1 part except the hazard lights.
I have chosen to design and build a 5 second reverse power delay (Solution 2) with alarms to indicate a forklift truck is in presence. The 5-second delay gives the operator plenty of opportunity to look around to plan the route to be taken, and there are no objects/people in the way.
Picture Taken from
Standard alarm alerting people of forklift truck operation
Hazard light visibility increased for blind/loss of sight people are notified of a forklift trucks operation
When the main board detects the forklift truck is put into reverse there is a 5 second delay with restricted power/speed
Finally a power source overseeing the whole operation ensuring there is power to all components in order for them to work

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