Blind Spot Safety

Originally published 05/22/2018

Definition: A blind spot is the area around a vehicle or piece of construction equipment that is not visible to the operators, either by direct line-of-sight or indirectly by use of internal and external mirrors.

Many people know that virtually all vehicles have blind spots, however most people don’t realize how big they are!

Here are some tips that can keep us all safe around vehicles and equipment:

  • If you’re the driver, ensure you don’t do things to distract you from your surroundings while operating the machinery.
  • Cordon off the area with temporary fencing or hazard tape where possible.
  • A spotter should be used when you cannot practically isolate your equipment from other workers.
  • All pedestrians onsite should be aware of a vehicle’s blind spots and know how to signal the driver if required.
  • The machinery should be stopped if someone needs to approach.
  • If possible, do the bulk of the work with machinery with minimal people onsite.
  • Tools/Attachments on vehicles can create greater blind spots. They can also reduce visibility, or swing which can increase the risk to workers being struck or pinned.
  • Watch out for heavy equipment moving with raised buckets and be ready for possible sudden movements of booms or changes in direction of equipment movement.
  • Do not cross directly in front of or immediately behind large, heavy equipment or trucks where the operator sits higher in the vehicle.
  • Properly adjusting vehicle mirrors can substantially reduce blind spots. Video cameras are also a good source to use to reduce blind spots.
  • Technology such as proximity detectors are very useful, but technology doesn’t replace the need for situational awareness.
  • Radars and sensors can also be helpful to warn workers and drivers.
  • Consider GPS installed on equipment as well as wearable GPS tracking worn by workers.
  • Develop an Internal Traffic Control Plan- Strategies to control the flow of construction workers, vehicles, and equipment inside the work zone.
  • Reduce hazards for equipment operators such as: reducing the need to back up, limiting access points to work zones, establishing pedestrian-free areas where possible, and establishing work zone layouts to accommodate the type of equipment.
  • Provide signs within the work zone to give guidance to pedestrians, equipment, and trucks.

Download a recording form here.

Equipment Spotters

According to the Federal Highway Administration, equipment accidents on worksites cause more than a hundred deaths each year. The administration’s statistics show that between 2005 and 2010, major causes of worksite deaths involving construction equipment included:

  • Runovers/backovers – often caused by dump trucks – accounted for 24 percent of worker fatalities on construction sites.
  • Vehicle/equipment collisions and caught between/struck by construction equipment and objects each caused 14 percent of worksite deaths during that period.

How can we avoid this type of accident? How can we protect employees? Two words: equipment spotters. Use a spotter when you are backing a vehicle or piece of machinery, or when you are entering and/or moving a vehicle or machinery in a congested area. Use a spotter when visibility is poor and pedestrians or co-workers are in the area. Use a spotter to alert you to equipment obscured from your view.

Take precautions to protect your spotters. OSHA recommends implementing the following actions to keep them safe:

  • Ensure spotters and drivers agree on hand signals before you begin backing a vehicle or piece of machinery.
  • Instruct spotters to maintain visual contact with the driver while the driver is backing the vehicle.
  • Instruct drivers to stop backing immediately if they lose sight of the spotter.
  • Do not give spotters additional duties while they are acting as spotters.
  • Instruct spotters not to use personal mobile phones, headphones or other items that could pose a distraction during spotting activities.
  • Provide spotters with high-visibility clothing, especially during night operations.

Follow these simple guidelines to protect yourself when working in an area with moving vehicles or equipment:

  • Stay alert.
  • Don’t get distracted.
  • Stay a safe distance from machinery.
  • Keep off the equipment unless authorized.
  • Watch for shifting or unstable loads.
  • Wear high-visibility clothing.

Download the recording form here.