United Kingdom and Hungary - 2011
Segregating Pedestrians and Mobile Equipment
As part of Alcoa’s global fatality prevention efforts, locations in Great Britain and Hungary used simple, low-cost means to reduce the potential for safety incidents caused by the interface of pedestrians and mobile equipment.
The casthouse at the Kitts Green facility in Birmingham, England, had been fortunate to not have any such incidents in recent years despite high forklift truck activity and heavy pedestrian traffic in its low bay area. Recognizing this was a top fatality risk, the location created a method to measure the number of the interactions between pedestrians and mobile equipment and also uncover some of the factors behind them.
The approach involved counting pedestrian and fork lift truck movements in hourly blocks for six hours and recording them onto individual flowcharts that showed the layout of the area. The results indicated there were more than 5,000 pedestrian and truck movements in a 24-hour period, with the flowcharts clearly showing where the people and equipment were going to and coming from.
Where it was not practical to eliminate the use of vehicles, Kitts Green used the research to take the following actions:
- Revise some walkways and added others to move people away from busy intersections and into areas that were easier to manage;
- Move targeted activities, such as encouraging employees to use restrooms that did not require crossing equipment pathways; and
- Relocate targeted destinations, including the team leader’s office.
Once all actions were completed, Kitts Green measured traffic again for another six hours and discovered a 60% reduction in the number of pedestrians in the area. The location, which shared its methodology with other Alcoa plants, is now conducting a similar project on cranes interfacing with pedestrians and mobile equipment.
The Alcoa Köfém plant in Hungary also had challenges with regard to segregating pedestrians and mobile equipment. The location had experienced one first aid case in 2006 and a contractor lost workday in 2007 due to the issue.
To better understand the problem areas and to also educate employees, the location placed video cameras in the cabs of forklift trucks to show employees the restricted visibility of the drivers. Videos taken from overhead crane tracks that were located above congested areas presented the severity of the issue to both pedestrians and truck drivers.
To reduce the potential for incidents, Alcoa Köfém instituted changes that included the following:
- Reduced the number of forklift and electric trucks from 60 to 37, essentially eliminating 38% of the truck exposure;
- Reduced the speed of both vehicle types from 20 kilometers per hour (12 miles per hour) to eight kilometers per hour (five miles per hour);
- Banned or regulated access for other vehicles without speed limitations and created a single point of access for all equipment;
- Created inlet and outlet areas for waste disposal and oils and emulsions to avoid having large tanker trunks in the production area;
- Modified walkways to lead pedestrian traffic away from high traffic areas;
- Reduced the height of stored materials in proximity to pedestrian walkways and crossings, making the pedestrians more visible to the forklift operators; and
- Installed interlocked gates and pedestrian presence sensors at two main intersections to force pedestrians to stop and look before crossing aisle ways.
Visibility for both pedestrians and mobile equipment operators has increased significantly. In addition, Alcoa Köfém has had zero incidents related to pedestrians interfacing with mobile equipment.