With golf carts becoming a staple of workplace transportation, we look at some tips for the safe operation and maintenance of these unique vehicles.
Golf carts aren’t just for golf anymore. They are becoming more and more common in workplaces and on industrial campuses. Maintenance and landscape workers find them convenient for getting around large sites. In factories, they’re handy for delivering mail, supplies, and even tools. Airports, sports arenas, and other venues use the versatile carts to transport disabled persons and VIPs, and some employers have found them helpful in complying with accessibility and reasonable accommodations laws in assisting mobility-impaired workers.
In some communities, like Sun City, Arizona, and Peachtree City, Georgia, the carts have their own system of paths, independent of city streets, and are vying with automobiles to be the primary mode of transportation for short trips.
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But as the popularity and usefulness of golf carts increase, so does the injury risk. A golf cart is not a car or a forklift. To stay safe, workers who drive these vehicles need to understand the differences in operation and handling, and the limitations of golf carts.
The Cal/OSHA Compliance Advisor offers these tips for keeping employees safe in and around golf carts.
Golf Cart Safety Basics
Most golf cart injuries occur when passengers, drivers, or pedestrians are:
- Ejected from the vehicle
- Involved in rollover incidents
- Struck by golf carts
Injuries can be very serious. Operators, riders, and pedestrians have suffered traumatic brain injuries in golf cart accidents, and although no good overall statistics exist, individual accident reports show that some individuals have died. But a company safety policy, regular vehicle inspections, and safe operating rules can reduce the risks.
Inspections. Golf carts, like other vehicles used in the workplace, should be inspected before use. Operators should check:
- Fluids. A glance under the vehicle will reveal battery fluid leaks.
- Tires. Tires need to be in good condition, properly inflated, and free of damage.
- Controls. The brakes, steering, and accelerator should all respond properly.
- The horn. Make sure it works!
Safe work practices. Operators must follow safe work practices when using carts. They should:
- Make sure that the driver and all passengers remain seated while the vehicle is in gear.
- Ensure that passenger restraints, if provided, are worn.
- Never transport more passengers than the cart has seats.
- Never operate the cart while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription and/or nonprescription medications that may affect alertness.
- Tow loads only if the cart is designed for towing.
- Always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
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- Drive no faster than the posted speed limit. Street-legal carts can operate on public roadways with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less; off-road, carts should not be driven at speeds faster than 15 mph. (This is a requirement of the American National Standards Institute safety standards for golf carts, Z130.1.)
- Reduce speed on slopes, when approaching turns, while passing through doorways, in bad weather or poor visibility conditions, or when pedestrians are in the area.
- Observe all traffic laws when traveling on public roadways.
- Never leave keys in an unattended cart.
- Never park carts near flammable chemicals or open flames, or in areas where they block access to emergency equipment or building exits.