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Preventing Deaths and Injuries from Backing-Up

Environmental engineer directing tanker truck for hazardous waste cleanup

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.

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