Resource Articles

August 8, 2008

Information Alert
Reach Trucks Collision Hazards


This memorandum does not represent a published Ministry of Labour Alert. It is being provided to alert you to this specific hazard and to assist you with an assessment of the hazard and implementation of a program that addresses work activities on reach truck collision hazards.

Hazard Summary

A number of fatal incidents have occurred within the last few years where operators of electric narrow aisle lift trucks have struck racking components during the operation of these devices. The purpose of this document is to draw attention to the hazard that exists, potential measures that can be taken to eliminate the hazard or minimize risk to the operators.

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Introduction

A number of fatal incidents (as well as critical and non-critical injuries) have occurred within the last few years where operators of electric narrow aisle lift trucks - defined as Class II lift trucks by CSA B335-04 Safety Standard for Lift Trucks - have struck racking components during the operation of these devices. Although the scope of the CSA Standard’s definition covers narrow aisle lift trucks of various types this document focuses on Lift Code 1 (High lift straddle trucks) and Lift Code 2 (Reach Type Outrigger) within the Class II definition. They are commonly referred to as ‘Reach Trucks’ and will be referred to as such for the remainder of this document. The purpose of this document is to draw attention to the hazard that exists, potential measures that can be taken to eliminate the hazard or minimize risk to the operator, and to identify legislation that is applicable to this issue.

It should be noted that the hazard described below is not necessarily confined to any particular make or model of reach type truck. Some manufacturers include measures that address the hazards (e.g vertical bars attached to the rear of the truck) as standard equipment and others offer such devices as optional equipment depending on the needs of the particular customer.

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The Hazard

Reach trucks may protect their operators from overhead hazards (falling loads) and forward collisions where the mast, forks and body of the reach truck help to prevent incursion of objects into the operator’s compartment. However, circumstances exist where a rearward collision with a racking system component can result in serious or fatal injuries to the operator as a result of the component entering the operator’s compartment and striking or crushing the operator. The most commonly struck object is a racking cross beam.

At least two fatalities have occurred since 2005 where reach truck operators have been struck by racking components or crushed between the racking component and the front of the operator’s compartment during rearward collisions.

Reach truck operators must be trained on the particulars of this equipment-specific hazard. Extra caution must be used when working in and around certain racking system setups and precautions taken to minimize risk to the operator.

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Controlling the Risk

Employers at workplaces that operate reach trucks should determine whether safeguards are in place to protect the operators of Reach Trucks in the event of a rearward or side-on collision. Measures that can be taken to control risk to Reach Truck Operators during a rearward collision may include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  1. Fitting Rear Guard Posts

    To completely safeguard an operator against the hazard of rearward / side-on collisions with certain racking system cross-beams, a reach truck could be provided with a rear guard posts to prevent an object such as a racking component from entering the operator’s compartment (exact positioning will vary by model and not all reach trucks may be able to accept this modification). The positioning of these guards should eliminate the possibility of the cross-beam intruding into the operator’s compartment. Reach Truck manufacturers may include rear guard posts as standard equipment or as an option. Note – if these guard posts are fitted as after market accessories they must be fitted by the original manufacturer, his agent or under the direction of a professional engineer.

  2. Adjust Cross-beam Heights

    The hazard can also be eliminated by adjusting the height of the racking cross beam such that they prevent the reach truck from driving under them. This could be achieved by installing the first cross beam at a height that causes the main body of the reach truck to contact the beam rather than allowing the cross beam enter the operator’s compartment in the event if a rearward collision or side-swipe. Please note that any modification of the racking system should be done under the direction of a professional engineer as structural integrity may be affected. Relevant documentation should be retained on file by the employer.

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Applicable Legislation

Employers are advised that the following legislation is applicable to circumstances where REACH TRUCKS operate and there is a danger that the operator of such devices may be injured as a result of a rearward collision or ‘side-swipe’ with a racking cross beam (this is not an exhaustive list):

Occupational Health and Safety Act

Subsection 25(2)(d) of the Act could apply where racking height is a potential hazard to the operator of a reach truck. In these circumstances the operator and his or her supervisor should be informed of the existence of the hazard (and the means by which the risk to the operator associated with the hazard is to be controlled).

Subsection 25(2)(a) of the Act states that employers shall provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect their health and safety. Reach truck operators and their supervisors should receive the information and instruction necessary to be considered a competent person (in line with the requirements of S51(2)(a) of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments). Such information and instruction must address the actual hazards in the workplace and operators should be informed of the hazard of a rearward or side-swipe collision with a racking cross beam. Even when measures have been implemented to protect the worker (e.g cross beam height adjustment / rear guard posts) the worker and supervisor must be made aware of the hazard in order identify situations where controls have failed (e.g a cross beam has been removed for repair / a rental reach truck without rear guard posts has been brought into the workplace whilst the employer’s device is being repaired).

In environments where the specific legislation such as the Health Care or Industrial Regulation (see below) do not apply (with the exception of farming) and the hazard described in this document exist the employer has a general duty under S25(2)(h) of the Act to take the reasonable precaution in the circumstance for the protection of a worker. This may include implementing safeguards to protect reach truck operators from the dangers associated with a rearward / side-swipe collision with a racking cross beam where this hazard exists in their workplace.

Regulations for Industrial Establishments (851/90)

Subsection 51(2)(a) of the Regulations states that the lift truck should only be operated by a competent person. A competent person is someone who, amongst other things, has knowledge of any actual or potential danger in the workplace and is qualified through training, knowledge or experience to operate the lift truck safely (i.e to organize and perform the task). The training regime of the operator should cover racking set up and the potential dangers to the operator in a rearward collision. However, such training is not a substitute for more effective means of addressing (and eliminating) the hazard.

In the event that the potential exists for a reach truck operator to be injured by a racking cross beam or other component entering the operator’s compartment S45(a) of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments may apply. This subsection requires that materials, articles or things are lifted, carried or moved in such a way, and with such precautions and safeguards to ensure that the safety of any worker will not be endangered. As such the employer should implement safeguards for the protection of a worker employed in the handling of materials using a reach truck (or the truck itself as the truck is a ‘thing’ that is being moved) where there is a danger that the operator may be at risk as a result of contact with a racking cross beam that is capable of entering the operator’s compartment during a rearward or side-swipe collision.

In addition to S45(a) section 20 of the Regulations for Industrial Establishments may also be applicable (….safeguards for the protection of all workers in an area shall be used where vehicle or pedestrian traffic may endanger the safety of any worker). As the reach truck is a vehicle and the operator may be in danger as a result of a collision due to the position of the racking cross beam, safeguards that protect the operator from the risk associated with this hazard should be implemented.

Regulations for Health Care and Residential Facilities (67/93)

In a health care environment worker training and instruction on the lifting device and the hazards associated with the operation of the device can be addressed by S44(g) of the Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation. Subsections 103(1) and 103(2) of these Regulations address material handling hazards in the health care environment and require the employer to handle materials in a manner that does not cause a hazard (s103(1)) and materials are transported or stored in a manner that does not endanger a worker (S103(2)). To comply with these requirements the employer should implement arrangements that protect the worker from the potential hazard of an object such as a racking cross beam entering the operator’s compartment of a reach truck.

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How IAPA Can Help

IAPA has a variety of training and information resources on lift trucks. Please see:



IAPA Resources