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There are a number of different type of lights that forklifts can be fitted with that can improve workplace safety by increasing awareness of their presence. All serve a specific purpose.
Like cars and trucks, many forklifts come equipped with headlights and tail lights or brake lights. But unlike other vehicles, these lights aren’t there primarily so forklifts can operate at night. Instead, headlights and tail lights let pedestrians and other drivers know when forklifts are in the area.
Red and Blue Pedestrian Side Lights
Some forklifts also come equipped with red or blue side lights. Often, these are aftermarket forklift accessories that are added to increase the safety of the vehicle.
As the name implies, sidelights illuminate the area to the sides of the forklift — and sometimes the front and/or rear as well — so that other people have a visual cue of the vehicle’s proximity. They are especially useful in loud workplaces where other workers may not always hear the forklift approaching.
Forklift side lights are also useful when electric forklifts are used because these types of vehicles don’t make much noise when they run.
Strobe Lights and Mars Lights
Many forklifts also come equipped with strobe lights, Mars lights, or horns.
Strobe lights are bright white lights that flash at a quick frequency and can be startling to people nearby. They are highly effective at getting people’s attention, although they also can be distracting and even potentially dangerous to people if they suffer from epilepsy.
Mars lights are the kind of emergency lights found on police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks. Their light is reflected onto a mirror that spins around on a cylinder.
There is some debate as to when strobe lights and Mars lights should be used on forklifts. Some contend they should be left on whenever the vehicle is turned on or in motion, while others say they should only be used when the vehicle is backing up or when motion detectors sense there are other people or vehicles in the area.
How you use these types of forklift lights will depend on your specific operation. If you have a crowded workplace floor where vehicles and people share space frequently, it may be advantageous to flash forklift lights more frequently.
Horns and Backup Alarms
While they are not light-based, forklift horns and backup alarms serve a similar purpose. They let other people know when forklifts are moving nearby by emitting a high-pitched alarm or a blaring horn.
The more you can do to increase awareness of forklifts when they are working near people and other vehicles, the more you can improve workplace safety and reduce the risk of accidents.