According to OSHA, the second highest cause of construction-related deaths is being struck by an object. Approximately 75% of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment such as trucks, cranes or backhoes. Failure to follow vehicle safety practices can increase the risk of injury. Such injuries include, being pinned between the vehicle and another object (i.e. walls, another vehicle or other equipment), struck by swinging backhoes, crushed beneath overturned vehicles, or other similar accidents.
The following aspects should be considered when operating or working around construction vehicles:
- Check the vehicle before each shift to ensure that all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition and free of apparent damage that could cause failure while in use.
- Whenever equipment is parked, the parking brake shall be set. Always park the machine on level ground where possible. If the machine is to be parked on an incline, always lower the buckets so that the cutting lips contact the ground, apply the parking brake, and securely block the wheels.
- Do not operate vehicle at speeds which will endanger the driver, traffic or people in the surrounding area. Increase awareness and decrease speed when traveling over uneven ground. Do not transport anyone on the loader bucket.
- Always keep a lookout for bystanders; warn them when necessary. When backing up, the following warning devices are acceptable: an automatic back-up audible alarm which can be clearly heard from a distance of 200 feet; an automatic braking device, which will apply the brake on contact with an object. A spotter or flagger in clear view to direct the operator when backing up can be used as well.
- Never move, lift or swing a load over anyone. When possible, clear the immediate surrounding working area, or make sure everyone is aware that heavy machinery is being used nearby.
- Avoid injury from rollover accidents. Wear the seatbelt! Do not attempt to jump clear of tripping machines because serious or fatal crushing injuries may result. Be careful when operating on a slope; avoid sharp turns, balance weight so it is evenly distributed and the load is stable, know the capacity of the machine, never overload it.
- Be careful working at the edge of an excavation, near ditches, or on soft ground while loading or unloading from a trailer.
- Familiarize yourself with the local conditions. Read and understand d the operating instructions on the operator’s manual. Take a few seconds to study the jobsite’s activity.