By Ellis Brasch
When they are on construction sites, workers sometimes forget that they are just as vulnerable to approaching vehicles as other pedestrians. On May 1, a dump truck made a routine trip at a construction site to drop off a load of asphalt. An Oregon worker died as the truck was backing up, becoming another victim of a backover accident. In July 2014, another Oregon worker died when a dump truck backed over him in a similar situation.
Dump trucks are historically the most common cause of fatal backover injuries at construction sites, but other vehicles – including forklifts and pickup trucks – also cause backover accidents.
Drivers might not see a worker standing in their vehicle's blind spot or they may assume that their vehicle's path of travel is clear. And pedestrians – the workers on foot – might not hear a vehicle back up over surrounding noise or because they may be focused on doing their own tasks.
The key to preventing backover accidents on construction sites is to ensure that drivers and pedestrians are more aware of the activities going on around them. Here are four ways to accomplish that:
Inspect vehicles at the beginning of each shift. Make sure that brakes, lights, horns, and backup alarms and cameras are working properly. Put defective vehicles out of service until they are repaired.
At the start of each shift, review communications signals between equipment operators and spotters with all workers who will be on the site.
Oregon OSHA's construction-industry rule for vehicles that have obstructed views to the rear is 437-003-3225(9), Warning Devices, which requires that such vehicles have a backup alarm that can be heard over surrounding noise. This does not apply when the vehicle backs up and a spotter (or the operator) verifies that there is no one behind the vehicle and that no one will enter the "danger area" without the operator's knowledge. A similar requirement - 437-002-2225(9), Warning devices – applies to general-industry workplaces. ▉
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