Construction site vehicle safety 101

January 21, 2019

According to the United States Department of Labor, “One in four ‘struck by vehicle’ deaths involve construction workers, more than any other occupation.” Given that the construction profession is known as the most infamous profession for vehicle/equipment related injuries, it is important to ensure you’re up to date on the best practices for keeping yourself safe on site. Here, we have compiled a fey key rules to follow while on the construction site.

It’s not always easy to avoid “struck by” incidents as they do not always directly involve a vehicle. Pedestrians, equipment operators and ground workers alike may all be susceptible to falling materials, equipment slips/roll overs, equipment accidentally left in gear, blind spots and more.

On the hole, it is a best practice to be aware at all times and to keep an eye on your surroundings. However, there are a few concrete steps you can take to aid in general safety:  

  • Provide training on heavy equipment hazard awareness and safe work practices
  • Use trained and/or certified equipment operators and spotters.
  • Ensure that operators have access to a copy of the proper operating manual
  • Limit the amount of vehicles/equipment backing up throughout the work day by preparing a path site plan for vehicles, heavy trucks and deliveries
  • Set up a limited-access zone or swing radius around heavy equipment.
  • Maintain equipment to be in good operating condition.
  • Provide a cab shield or canopy worker protection for top-loading vehicles.
  • Increase visibility and lighting for night work.
  • Provide equipment with rollover protective structure (ROPS).
  • Before any equipment maintenance is performed, utilize lockout/tag out procedures.

Operators:

  • Be familiar with your manuals and their coinciding equipment
  • Inspect the equipment before use
  • Adjust back and side mirrors to your needs
  • Ensure the coast is clear and everyone is out of the way before operating a vehicle
  • Acknowledge and allow safe passage to workers who alert you that they are approaching.
  • Keep parallel to slopes or embankments while operating
  • Turn off the engine and engage brakes before leaving equipment.
  • Face the equipment, maintaining three points of contact, while getting on and off the equipment.
  • Top loading vehicles must have cab shields and canopy protection.
  • Avoid overloading vehicles.
  • Always wear the seat belt.

Spotters:

  • Should wear highly visible clothing at all times
  • Should be well trained in hand signals and guidance procedures to ensure operators can effectively and safely maneuver throughout the work site.

Ground-Workers:

  • Avoid putting yourself in an operators blind spot
  • Do not set up your work area around heavy equipment
  • Do not walk under or work under a suspended load
  • Be absolutely certain that you’ve made eye contact with operators and that they’ve noticed you before you get close to operating equipment
  • Ride only in approved seats and wear a seat belt.
  • Wear high-visibility clothing when working around heavy mobile equipment.

As a construction worker, it can be easy to become used to being around heavy machinery every day. You may become complacent but that it one of the most dangerous things you can do to yourself. Stay aware, stay safe and follow best practices.

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