Some construction seasons that pass leaves us with tales of injuries and deaths of workers
who were in the vicinity of moving vehicles and equipment. We have been fortunate to not have had an accident like this for quite a while. But, there have been incidents where some good safety practices may have prevented minor injuries, equipment damage, and even close calls.
Poor sight lines and lack of visibility are inherent in most of the equipment that we operate every day. Even the passenger vehicles that we drive have their blind spots. This is especially true when backing and moving in tight spaces. Warning devices such as back-up alarms and flashing lights are available on most of our heavy equipment, but they may not be sufficient to protect foot traffic. Too often where equipment is pulling forward and backing up on a continuing basis, the back-up alarm becomes just part of the back ground noise. Of course that depends on what else is occurring on the site.
Proper site planning, traffic control and training are the best solutions to this potentially deadly problem. When we have people walking and equipment moving it has to be SEE AND BE SEEN.
Consider some of these points:
♦ Look at the traffic pattern on your site. Whenever possible, drive through operations are preferred. Minimize the amount of backing that is required.
♦ Consider where foot traffic is traveling and avoid conflicts with foot traffic and equipment or vehicle traffic. Establish designated travel areas. Maybe some barricades could be employed.
♦ If equipment and workers on foot must be in the same area, establish a traffic control system. That may include high visibility clothing or a spotter. Remember that you must have a spotter backing you up on every jobsite
♦ Make sure that your crew is well aware of the blind spots that exist on the mobile equipment in operation in your area.
♦ After learning the location of the blind spots, make it a practiced effort to recognize them and to never enter those areas, even if you think the equipment is not in operation.
♦ Don’t assume that the operator of mobile equipment will see you. Take the time and effort to make eye contact or to obtain some sort of acknowledgement that the operator sees you. The equipment operator has responsibilities as well:
♦ All windows must be clean and free of objects that can obstruct the view .
♦ Mirrors must be clean and adjusted to properly observe the work area.
♦ When parking mobile equipment consider what is going on around the equipment at the time it is parked and also consider what may be occurring when the equipment will next be moved. Don’t park in the blind spot of other trucks or equipment.
♦ Before entering equipment that has been parked, walk around the equipment making sure all sides are unobstructed, and that lights, cameras, and mirrors are clean.
♦ Before starting up after being parked, sound the horn to alert any surrounding personnel.