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On nearly all forklifts, the forklift horn is one of the most frequently used features. Most operators will honk their forklift every time they are approaching an intersection, coming up on pedestrians, or any other time they need to make others aware of their presence.
Some forklifts also have backup horns that automatically beep whenever the vehicle is put into its reverse gear. Like backup alarms on trucks, these safety features announce the presence of the vehicle when the operator is less likely to see if any people, vehicles, or objects are behind them.
While forklift horns and backup alarms are effective at raising awareness, they aren’t the optimal solution in every situation.
In fact, in busy, noisy warehouse, dock, manufacturing, or other types of operations, horns may actually be relatively ineffective because loud conditions make them nearly impossible to hear much of the time.
Benefits of Flashing Strobe Lights
Flashing strobe lights do visually what horns do audibly. They announce the forklift’s presence well ahead of time so that people or vehicles can get out of the way, reducing the risk of a collision.
Because forklifts are so heavy and operators often have their view obstructed by loads, no matter how careful the driver is, there is always the risk of an accident. Forklift flashing strobe lights reduce this risk by flashing bright, repeating lights whenever the vehicle is in motion.
Horns Aren’t Always Enough
While horns should still be used frequently by forklift operators, they aren’t always enough. In places like manufacturing facilities, loud noises from machinery and other equipment may reduce the likelihood that other workers will be able to hear a forklift horn — especially if they are wearing earplugs or other personal protective equipment for hearing.
And workers who are hard of hearing in the first place, or even completely deaf, may not be able to hear forklift horns even in absolutely quiet conditions.
Types of Forklift Strobe Lights
There are several different types of forklift strobe lights, most of which can be retrofitted on existing equipment.
Traditional flashing lights like those used on older model police car usually feature yellow or red lights that spin around.
Newer types of forklift strobe lights feature LED lighting that repeatedly flashes in all directions at once, usually at or near eye level of pedestrians.
Other types of LED strobes flash down toward the ground level, illuminating the side, behind, or in front of the vehicle while it is in motion, or all three.
There’s no such thing as a forklift that is too safe. Forklift strobe lights can increase forklift awareness in settings where forklift horns simply aren’t enough.