Washington adopts new rules for operating dump trucks in reverse

Dump truck operators in Washington state must use a back-up alarm and a spotter or video device when driving in reverse, under an emergency rule adopted by the state’s department of labor and industries.

Steve Pierce, spokesman for the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act, said the proposal was brought about because of the state’s high fatality statistics. Between 1998 and 2003 there were 17 fatalities in construction work zones in Washington, and of those fatalities, dump trucks were involved in eight. Six fatalities were the result of a dump truck backing over a worker, and in all of those accidents the dump trucks were equipped with operating backup alarms.

“For some reason, Washington has had more deaths as a result of dump trucks than other states,” Pierce said.

After reviewing the statistics and researching rules other states have incorporated, the department adopted its own rule, which went into effect May 12. Pierce said most other states do not have as strict of a rule for operating dump trucks in reverse.

“I’m not aware of any other states that have additional rules besides what OSHA requires,” Pierce said. “Most OSHA states just use a backup alarm or a spotter but not both.”

WISHA’s rule states that an observer or spotter can be anyone at the construction site, except a person performing the duties of a flagger, and that the spotter must be able to communicate with the driver, must be able to see the entire backing zone and must continue to provide direction to the driver until he reaches his destination. The rule also states that before backing up a dump truck the driver must determine that no one is in the backing zone and that the backup alarm works.

The rule was adopted through WISHA, Washington’s occupational safety and health agency. The program is administered by the state’s department of labor and is approved and partially funded by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA requires state programs such as WISHA to be at least as effective as OSHA, and gives the state programs the ability to prepare and adopt their own workplace safety and health standards.

To read Washington’s dump truck backup rule, click on the link to the right.