Originally published Aug. 9, 2016
Every time a machine is put into reverse on a construction site, there is a potential for a dangerous accident. This could result in damage to property, injury to workers or death. Accidents caused by backing vehicles or equipment are preventable if everyone is trained properly.
Here are some tips that could help prevent a backing accident.
- Provide barricades and warning signs to identify where workers may and may not travel on the site where heavy equipment is in operation, or in congested areas.
- Plan ahead and avoid backing up whenever possible. You can do this by providing turn-arounds and laying out traffic patterns to eliminate congestion and the need for backing up.
- If you must back up, use a spotter and agree ahead of time on a stop signal. Spotters should:
- Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment such as a high visibility vest and hard hat.
- Walk the area where the backing will occur.
- Check for hazards and clear the area of people and other equipment.
- Check overhead clearance limits.
- Know and use appropriate hand signals. Don’t rely on voice signals alone because work zone noises can make hearing difficult – if not impossible – especially from inside a vehicle.
- Establish and maintain eye contact with the driver.
- Stop the driver if you observe hazards or if you’re uncertain about direction.
- Know your blind spots, and check them before backing up.
- Know your equipment, and make sure your back-up alarm is working.
- Even if the back-up alarm is working, blow your horn before you move your vehicle or equipment.
- Use your mirrors.
- Never be in a hurry when backing. Take your time.
- Watch your spotter. If you lose eye contact with your spotter, stop your vehicle.
Pedestrians on a work site should stay alert near heavy equipment.
- Never walk or stand behind a vehicle or piece of equipment.
- Never assume a driver can see you.
- Never try to outrun a vehicle or piece of equipment.
Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility. Slow down, and follow these simple guidelines to help prevent damage to people or property. If there’s an accident, follow emergency procedures. If there is a “near miss,” report it to your supervisor immediately, so management can investigate and come up with corrective action to prevent similar incidents.
Drivers, spotters and pedestrians are all responsible preventing accidents. Be sure to do your part.