Safety and Health – You do it everyday: Backing out of your driveway, backing out of a parking spot, and trying to parallel park. You would think backing up a vehicle or machinery on the job site would be just as simple. However 30% of all struck-by fatalities at construction sites between 2003 and 2010 involved a vehicle or mobile equipment backing up. That is 143 individual deaths in 7 years.
In a stride towards curbing the fatality rate, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a brief list of standard operating procedures. By following these procedures, and using critical thinking while on the job site, we can hopefully eliminate backover fatalities.
- Enforce an operating procedure that addresses how to work safely and lists best practices to follow when working near vehicles.
- Establish safety procedures for working at night with backing equipment. Ensure high-visibility apparel is worn.
- Take precautions. Use equipment that creates minimal blind spots or has proximity warning devices.
- Before work begins, design the job site to minimize or eliminate the need for backing vehicles and equipment.
- Be sure drivers know not to back up equipment unless they are under the direction of a spotter.
- Use barrels, barricades, cones or reflective devices to guide vehicles and equipment away from workers.
- Post signs informing workers where it is safe to walk.
- Ensure mirrors, windows, and breaks are in good working order. Do not operate the vehicle or equipment otherwise.
- Stop immediately if you lose site of your spotter.
- Review communication signals before operation.
If you are ever in doubt of the location of a pedestrian or fellow employee, stop the vehicle immediately until site and communication has been reestablished. It always pays off to be safe.