Run-Over by Equipment
Construction sites are constantly humming with activity, with vehicles and workers in states of motion. Sometimes, these sites are located along busy streets or highways, which increases the probability of a workplace injury.
Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, know when a construction worker is run over by equipment, injuries can range from:
- Lacerations and bruising
- Fractured bones
- Partial or full paralysis
- Massive internal injuries
- Permanent disfigurement and/or scarring
- Spinal injuries
- Loss of limbs/amputation
- Traumatic brain injury
So-called “struck-by” injuries are one of the top four causes of construction injuries and fatalities in the U.S. According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, approximately three-fourths of struck-by deaths involve some type of heavy equipment, such as cranes or trucks.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ review of 962 road site construction deaths in the last decade revealed nearly half (46 percent) were the result of a worker being struck by either a vehicle or mobile equipment. In 143 of those instances, the mobile equipment was backing up, and in 60 percent of those cases, the vehicle was a dump truck.
In instances where workers are run over, there may be a host of responsible parties, including:
- Contractors and sub-contractors
- Site owners
- Vehicle and equipment operators
- Vehicle and equipment maintenance personnel and/or after-market installers
- Vehicle and equipment manufacturers and distributors
- Other workers
- Equipment Backovers
While it’s never desirable to be struck by equipment from any angle, backover incidents are particularly dangerous for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the operator is typically not facing the victim. That often results in a delayed reaction time that has severe consequences to the worker who was struck.
A backover incident happens when a vehicle in reverse strikes a worker who is walking, kneeling or standing behind that vehicle. In a single year, the BLS estimates approximately 70 workers are killed in backover incidents.
According to OSHA, vehicles most commonly involved in fatal backover construction accidents were:
- Dump Truck
- Semi-Tractor Trailer
- Garbage Truck
- Pick-Up Truck
These instances can occur in a number of different ways. In one recent case, a Maryland worker donning a bright reflective safety vest was killed when a dump truck, equipped with an audible alarm and functioning lights, backed up and struck him with the rear passenger wheels. In another instance, a worker in New Jersey was struck and killed by a tractor trailer backed up and pinned the worker between the trailer and the dock.
There are a myriad of reasons why backovers occur.
In some cases drivers are unable to see the worker in his or her blind spot. Another factor is that because job sites are so noisy and chaotic, back-up alarms may not be heard. In some cases, those alarms and flashing lights may not be properly functioning. If a worker is riding on the back of a vehicle, he or she may fall, resulting in a backover. Spotters assisting one vehicle may be so focused on that task, they fail to notice the other vehicle approaching from behind. Drivers may not use appropriate caution or assume an area is clear without first looking to be sure.
Backover prevention methods can include:
- The use of spotters for vehicles backing up.
- In-vehicle display monitors that show drivers what is directly behind them.
- Sonar or other proximity detection devices to alert drivers to objects or persons behind them.
- Job-site specific internal traffic control plans, which limit the need to back-up in the first place.
The ultimate responsibility for prevention of backovers lies with those who control the work site – i.e., contractors, subcontractors and site owners. This means making sure sites are clear and well-organized, workers and drivers are well-trained and properly equipped with safe gear and vehicles.
But because it is workers on foot who put their lives on the line to get the job done, they must act defensively in order to shield themselves from danger.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends these workers:
- Don apparel that is high-visibility and appropriate for the job task and environment.
- Be constantly aware of not just the surrounding equipment but driver blind-spots.
- Communicate to operator with signals before approaching a vehicle.
- Listen for reverse signal alarms.
- Do not rest solely on a single safety practice but rather incorporate many.
Contact Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. There are no fees or costs unless we win. Offices in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Port Charlotte.
Call 800-646-1210 for a Free Consultation