Even with comprehensive training and improved safety features, backover incidents are still all too common in the construction industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 70 workers were killed from backovers in 2011. Here are three ways contractors can keep their employees from becoming a statistic:
Install video cameras with in-vehicle display monitors that give drivers a clear view of what’s behind their vehicle. Consider proximity detection devices (such as radar and sonar) that alert drivers to objects behind them. Use a tag-based system that alerts employees when they walk near a vehicle equipped to communicate with the tag worn by the employee.
Worksite alarms become background noise after a while and moving equipment no longer seems a danger. Train your employees to not rely simply on their eyes and ears, but also in how to actively avoid vehicle blind spots. The CDC’s NIOSH site provides comprehensive blind area diagrams for many types of construction vehicles, including dump trucks, the vehicle causing the most backover fatalities since 2005. Train all your drivers to use spotters each and every time they back a vehicle or piece of equipment. Ensure all your drivers and spotters have clear, consistent hand signals so there won’t be any confusion.
If you don’t develop an Internal Traffic Control plan for each and every jobsite, well, you’re doing it wrong. Many post-accident investigations fail to ascertain why the worker was in the path of the vehicle in the first place. Always assume your employees are going to walk through areas where foot traffic is not recommended, unless you instruct them otherwise. Create a plan and enforce it. Not sure how to go about it? The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse has a comprehensive booklet that describes how to set up an ITCP, what signage to use and how to protect workers from vehicular traffic, as well as sample ITCPs for you to view.
For more information, view this OSHA video (also available in Spanish) on preventing backovers.