Backhoes are part and parcel of most construction sites. But this heavy equipment is also responsible for hundreds of injuries and deaths each year. On average, about 40 people die annually from backhoe related accidents, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
These high, long machines are prone to certain issues due to their design. But accidents often result because workers were not paying attention, are overconfident, or not using proper safety equipment.
How Backhoe Injuries Occur
There are numerous ways in which backhoes cause injuries and fatalities. The most common include:
- Vehicle rollovers
- Sliding into trenches
- Victim pinned between the backhoe and another object
- Electrocutions from hitting power lines
- Material falling off backhoe
- Victim struck by the backhoe or its components
- Hitting an object, causing the operator to fall off the backhoe
- Excavator bucket detaching unexpectedly
- Defective or poorly maintained backhoe
- Slip and falls out of the backhoe or its bucket
- Bad transportation practices
Backhoe Safety Tips
While not every backhoe accident is preventable, good safety practices can greatly reduce the odds of injuries or fatalities. For example, anyone operating a backhoe should wear their seat belt. If they do hit an object, or encounter some other problem, the seatbelt saves them from falling out of the vehicle.
Other backhoe safety tips include:
- No passengers allowed – all backhoes are operated by just one person.
- Conduct safety inspections before operating the machinery, including a complete walkaround of the backhoe, as well as ensuring all functions operate correctly.
- Not operating the backhoe in an area where other people are working on the ground.
- Inspection of the work area for trees or power lines before beginning excavation.
- Checking to ensure the boom is locked if the backhoe is going on a road.
The operator should always know the capabilities of his or her machine, including the weight specs. While weight loads are crucial, the operator must always know the height and distances the backhoe is capable of lifting.
Since backhoes may roll over on hills and uneven ground, avoid these areas as much as possible. When they require traversing, do so only when the bucket is empty.
The Walkaround Inspection
The daily walkaround inspection of the backhoe should include looking for any damage to the bucket, attached tools, and hydraulic hoses. Make sure there is nothing inside the bucket that is not supposed to be there. Check under the backhoe for leaks and inspect the tires visually for pressure. Look for any damage or missing parts on the bucket structure.
Conduct a daily fluids check, for transmission fluid, engine oil, glycol and hydraulic oil, as well as the air filter indicator. The entire inspection may be performed without turning on the engine.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Assist People Injured in Backhoe Accidents
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a construction accident, you need the services of the experienced Philadelphia Construction Accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call our office today at 215-569-8488 or contact us online for a free case consultation. Our office is centrally-located in downtown Philadelphia near public transit. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.