Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Essential Order Picker Safety - Reducing Fall Risk

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Safety

One of the main safety risks for order pickers is falling from height when exiting the cabin onto pallets, partially enclosed platforms or racking.

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When operating an order picker all workers must hold a current order picker license and must understand and capably demonstrate the safe operation of the unit, harnesses, lanyards and inertia reels.

It is imperative that harnesses, lanyards and inertia reels are regularly checked and maintained to the highest standards as they are essential life saving devices in the event of a fall from height.

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Worksafe Victoria identifies two major risks to operators when using harnesses, lanyards and inertia reels, these are:

  1. If lanyards or inertia reels are too long a fall from height can leave operators suspended below the order picker platform or within racking. This can result in a pendulum effect where the operator is swung around with limited control into surround objects such as racking or the picker’s mast, resulting in the potential for serious injuries such as fractures and concussion
  2. Harness and lanyards can also be critically damaged through contact with sharp objects such as the corner of racking. This damage can lead to critical equipment failure resulting in a serious fall risk to the operator
Pendulum effect

As recommended by Worksafe Victoria there are a number of measures that can reduce or eliminate the fall risks described above, including:

  1. Banning operators from walking onto pallets attached to order pickers
  2. Using units equipped with fully enclosed platforms
  3. Ensuring operators do not leave an order picker to access racking
  4. Designating order pickers for operation in narrow racking aisles that are decked or have pallets on each beam, reducing the risk of workers falling from the side of the partially enclosed platform
  5. Restricting the length of lanyards and inertia reel line to prevent it extending to a length where workers can fall off a platform
  6. Ensuring the order picker moves as close to where goods are located as possible to limit the length of lanyard or reel line
  7. Decrease the depth of the pallet racking to limit lanyard length
  8. Ensure harness, lanyard or inertia reel combinations have a personal energy absorber to prevent a sudden fall arrest injury
  9. Ensuring the angle between the block and worker is within designer specification when using an inertia reel
  10. Ensuring the fall arrest line does not contact edges when used with an inertia reel
  11. Ensuring the block does not hit the workers head when using an inertia reel
  12. Using a wire as a lanyard to reduce the risk of the line cutting if a fall occurs

Whilst implementing some or all of the relevant measures above will greatly reduce the fall risk to operators, the best solution is to provide order pickers with fully enclosed platforms.

Fully enclosed platform

All of Hyster’s leading mid and high level order pickers can be designed and manufactured with fully enclosed platforms to ensure the maximum safety for your operators.

To discuss how a Hyster order picker can improve safety or for further unit information, contact us.

Ref: Fall restraints on order picking forklifts: A health and safety solution. (2011). [ebook] Worksafe Victoria, pp.1-2.