The most frequent accidents are:
- A worker being run over or backed over by a dump truck (49 percent)
- A collision between mobile equipment and/or a vehicle (14 percent)
- A worker being caught in-between or struck by vehicles (14 percent)
A major cause of these fatalities is the inability of the operator to see workers or others. Heavy equipment typically has large blind spots around it where the operator cannot see if someone is in their path. Generally, the taller and wider a machine is, the bigger its blind spot.
Operators should be properly training in using the heavy equipment. They need to be made aware of the extent of the blind spots, and take precautions to be sure their path is clear. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has performed extensive research on blind spots for typical construction site vehicles such as back hoes, front-end loaders, and the like.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set design and performance standards for some heavy equipment. Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) are required on all rubber-tired scrapers, front-end loaders, dozers, wheel-type tractors, crawler loaders, and graders. These must also be provided with a seat belt. Vehicles having an obstructed rear view need a back-up alarm. This warns those behind the machine when it is moving backwards.
All construction vehicles, regardless of size, must have a windshield that is intact and free of cracks or other conditions that could interfere with an operator’s ability to see. All gas or diesel operated equipment must have a permanently mounted fire extinguisher that works.
The heavy equipment operator must also maintain safe speeds, be aware of uneven or soft surfaces, and avoid using the equipment for other than its intended purpose.
However, operators alone cannot assure safety. It may be necessary to have a spotter assigned to work with a heavy equipment operator, to be sure no one is in the path of the equipment.
The spotter must be adequately trained in hand signals, maintain visual contact with the driver at all times, and wear high visibility and reflective clothing to enhance visibility. Casual signaling is not sufficient and could give a false sense of security. It is necessary for the spotter to employ a higher professional standard.
Other concerns when using heavy equipment involve site conditions. Uneven surfaces, crowded work spaces, and improperly staged construction can all create unnecessary risk. Precautions that should be taken include developing a path site plan for vehicles, heavy trucks, and delivery vehicles, to limit vehicles from being in areas with high foot traffic or from maneuvering in a way that could strike a worker.
Setting up a limited-access zone or swing radius around heavy equipment keeps foot traffic out of the way when the equipment is being used in a stationary position.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Workers Injured by Heavy Equipment
Contact one of our experienced Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC if you have been injured at work. A free consultation is available by calling 215-569-8488 or completing our online form. Our office serves clients throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding area.