By Guy Snowdy

To prevent any hazard, it is the recognition of an existing or predictable hazard. Most accidents occur when hazards go undetected or overlooked.

This posting today is to address a hazard that has been recognized for many years by OSHA, ANSI/ITSDF and other industry organizations and manufacturers for more than 30 years. The hazard is what is known as an Under-Ride hazard. I have seen a spike over the past several years of accidents associated with this hazard, many of which are resulting in fatalities.

What is an Under-Ride Hazard?

Under Ride or Drive Under is when the rear of a stand-up lift truck slides or is driven under horizontal load rail of typical pallet racks or other objects that can enter the cab of the lift operator’s compartment. In many cases, this occurs where horizontal load rails were improperly set within an inch or two of preventing the hazard.

I believe that the root cause of these accidents is that many end-users fail to conduct a proper hazard analysis of their work environment and equipment needed to be operated in. Many end-users rely solely on suppliers and other personnel that have little or no experience in assessing hazards that may be present in a work environment.

Most equipment sales representatives are well versed in the features and benefits of their product; however, they are reluctant to approach the subject of what changes may be necessary to the work environment or equipment.

Most injury and fatality cases I have reviewed over the past 35 years in the equipment and safety industry were preventable with minor adjustments to the environment. Some modifications are as simple as changing the height or the addition of a horizontal load rail.

No known canned video training programs approach this subject. In addition to proper hazard assessments and abatement of the hazard is the lift operator’s awareness of the potential of this hazard.

Simply put:

  • Have an experienced professional first access the work environment and equipment.
  • Engineer the proper abatement to the environment or equipment.
  • Have a hazard and regulatory gap assessment of all equipment operator training materials.

OSHA’s Safety and Health Bulletin on July 27, 2009, available at