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There is an area of your workplace that is especially dangerous, accounting for hundreds of workplace injuries every year. And you may have never heard of it.
It’s called the Loading, Unloading Exclusion Zone — or LUEZ for short — and it is a potential “drop zone” where workers can be injured by falling equipment, pallets, and other materials.
LUEZ is the area directly beneath the extended forks on a forklift or other equipment that is used to lift materials to shelves or other heights. And it’s one of the most dangerous places in any warehouse, dock, or other materials handling operation.
Stay Out of the LUEZ
The simplest way to avoid accidents is to simply keep workers out of the LUEZ. After all, it’s right there in the name: “Exclusion” zone.
Whenever items are being loaded or unloaded onto shelves, truck beds, or other areas, anybody who doesn’t need to be near the danger zone should be prohibited from being in the vicinity. Managers and supervisors can be given the responsibility of keeping unnecessary personnel out of the LUEZ at all times.
In the absence of management or supervisory staff, the forklift operator should be given the duty of keeping the LUEZ clear of other employees. As they perform their job responsibilities, forklift drivers should also shoo away anybody who doesn’t belong in the vicinity, especially in the area directly beneath the load they are lifting.
As they perform their job responsibilities, forklift drivers should also shoo away anybody who doesn’t belong in the vicinity, especially in the area directly beneath the load they are lifting.
Whenever practical, a spotter should be assigned to work with a forklift driver, crane operator, or other person working heavy lifting machinery to keep people out from underneath potentially hazardous loads.
No Working Blind
Another effective step is to prohibit operators from lifting in places where they can’t see what’s underneath them. If there are any blind spots, the lifting operation should be halted until the driver can verify that there are no other workers in the LUEZ.
While most heavy equipment operators want to get their work done as quickly and efficiently as possible, taking the time to ensure that there is nobody in harm’s way is often worth the extra effort.
This responsibility also can be assigned to the spotter, a supervisor, or other management personnel.
Making employees aware of the LUEZ and its dangers can help avoid needless accidents, avoid unnecessary injuries, and even save lives.