Prevent backover injuries and deaths
Backing vehicles and equipment are a serious occupational hazard. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that, of the 443 struck-by fatalities at road construction sites between 2003 and 2010, 143 cases involved a vehicle or mobile equipment backing up.
To help prevent backover injuries and deaths, NIOSH recommends a number of standard operating procedures:
- Create and enforce an operating procedure that addresses how to work safely and lists best practices to follow when working near vehicles and other equipment.
- 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 worksites to minimize or eliminate the need for backing vehicles and equipment.
- Hire a competent person to supervise worksites involving 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.
NIOSH states that before work begins, vehicle and equipment operators need to inspect their machinery for any issues. Ensure everything, including mirrors and windows, is clear and in good working order. If something is found to be defective, remove the vehicle or equipment from service until repairs are made.
When operating equipment, know its blind spots. If you lose contact with your spotter for any reason, immediately stop work.
NIOSH also notes that clear communication is key. “At the start of each shift, review communications signals (verbal, hand signals, flags) between spotters, machine operators, truck drivers, and workers on foot,” the agency states.
For workers on foot near backing vehicles or equipment, NIOSH recommends employees adhere to the following:
- Wear appropriate high-visibility personal protective equipment.
- Know the blind spots of vehicles and equipment you work near.
- Never approach a piece of equipment or vehicle without a clear signal of acknowledgment from the operator.
- Avoid areas where vehicles and equipment travel.
- Stay alert for the sound of reversing alarms.
- Avoid complacency. Always know your surroundings.