Safety Watch

In a tight spot

A backhoe’s swing radius is a dangerous spot to be in

The accident: A contractor was operating a backhoe close to a concrete wall. Another worker approached the backhoe on the operator’s blind side and walked between the wall and the swinging structure of the backhoe. The operator failed to see the other worker, and the victim was crushed between the machine and the wall. The victim died as a result of his injuries.

Safety Untitled 1The bottom line: A post-accident investigation determined the contractor failed to train employees in safe work practices on the hazards of construction machinery. The company was also issued a citation for failing to erect barricades to prevent entry into the machine’s swing radius.

Remember the rules

Whether you’re a veteran operator or a novice, remembering the safe work practices you’ve been trained in will keep you and your fellow workers out of harm’s way.

If you’re an operator:

• Don’t start your machine until you know everyone else is away from your work area

• Periodically sound your horn to remind other workers of your presence

• Always look around before you back up, hook up or swing an attachment to ensure everyone is in the clear.

If you’re on the ground:

• Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times

• Never walk into a machine’s swing radius while it is in operation

• Recognize the danger of passing between a machine and a solid object on the jobsite.

Common sense tips

Visibility – Check all windows and mirrors prior to backhoe operation, and clean any dirt or debris from them. Look around the cab and make sure nothing in the cab will obstruct your vision.

Communication – If your work area includes solid objects, other machines or structures that obstruct your view, enlist a spotter to help you maintain a safe work environment. The spotter will alert you to any dangers outside of your field of vision, and instruct you to stop machine operation if a person enters your machine’s swing radius. EW

Information for this safety watch came from an accident report, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and OSHA Construction Standards (CFR Part 1926). It is for general information only.