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Video shows how to maximize safe use of backup alarms

back up alarms
Photo: IRSST

Montreal — Canadian scientific research organization IRSST has released a new video intended to ensure the optimal use of backup alarms “under realistic working conditions.”

OSHA’s standard on motor vehicles in construction (1926.601) requires backup alarms on any vehicle with an obstructed rear view when moving in reverse.

Information presented in the two-minute video comes from an IRSST-funded study on the state of knowledge on the audibility and sound source localization of backup alarms, as well as how the positioning of the devices affect sound transmission behind vehicles.

Among the recommendations in the video:

  • Place the backup alarm at the vehicle’s rear at a height of about 3 feet to 6.5 feet above the ground and where it can easily be seen and heard by workers in the “hazard zone.”
  • Set the alarm volume just above the level of ambient noise.
  • The maximum reversing speed should be about 7.5 mph, allowing workers in the vicinity of the vehicle to have at least two seconds of reaction time.
  • Use broadband alarms if several vehicles will be reversing at the same time. This will “minimize the risks associated with poor ability to locate sound sources,” IRSST states in a June 18 press release.

“The best way to prevent accidents involving reversing vehicles is still to limit reversing as much as possible and to control the number of pedestrians in vehicle-reversing areas by implementing effective traffic plans,” Hugues Nélisse, lead study author and IRSST researcher, said in the release. “Given that backup alarms are still a widely used means of warning people near vehicles that there’s a hazard, we have to use them as effectively as possible, to ensure safety.”

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