For construction workers in New York City, worksites are full of potential hazards that pose a risk to a worker's health and physical safety. Not only must construction workers routinely complete work projects from atop scaffolding, putting them at risk of falling and from the depths of trenches that may collapse unexpectedly; but workers must also be constantly aware of the whereabouts and movements of construction vehicles.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, from 2005 to 2010, a total of 194 construction workers across the U.S. were killed in vehicle backover accidents. At many construction sites, motor vehicles like dump trucks, forklifts and pick-up trucks are common fixtures and aid in completing projects. While deemed essential at many sites, such vehicles also pose dangers to workers who may not hear or see an approaching or backing vehicle.
All U.S. employees bear a legal duty and responsibility to keep employees safe. For construction employers, it's imperative that workers receive sufficient training so that a worker is able to both identify potential hazards and take steps to mitigate and avoid unsafe conditions.
When it comes to preventing backover accidents, OSHA recommends that construction companies implement the following safety measures.
• Spotters - Train workers on the ground to partner with drivers and act as a driver's eyes and ears on the ground. A spotter can be especially effective in preventing backover accidents by alerting workers of a vehicle's movements and a driver about the presence of workers.
• Backup safety devices - Much like backup cameras are utilized in personal vehicles, these types of "proximity detection devices" can be used in construction vehicles.
• "Internal traffic control plans" - Providing drivers with clear driving paths through construction sites helps designate work areas for both drivers and workers and reduce the likelihood of accidental backovers.
Construction employers who fail to take measures to prevent construction vehicle accidents put the lives of workers at risk. In cases where a worker is involved in an accident involving a truck or forklift, legal action may be taken to recover damages.
Source: OSHA.gov, "Preventing Backovers," June 22, 2015