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Construction Backover Accidents: Preventable, but Still Happening

Steve Wagner

Did you know that OSHA reports that approximately 70 workers are killed each year as the result of being backed over by a truck or construction vehicle?

How do these accidents happen?
Unfortunately, backover construction site accidents are completely preventable. We would say “fortunately” they are preventable, but for those who have already lost their lives due to tragedy in the workplace, this is not a fortunate fact. For those who are still clocking in each morning, there are things to be aware of and precautions that can be taken to help keep them safe and protected while on the job.

Backover accidents typically occur because:

  • construction sites and other types of work sites are often extremely noisy. It can be hard to hear running vehicles, and even hard to hear back-up signals at times when work zones are loud.
  • alarms malfunction. Non-working equipment is a common reason for accidents, like when a back-up alert signal on a truck isn’t working, workers may not have time to respond before they realize the truck is moving.
  • workers can be in the blind spot of the vehicle. Even with flashing lights, orange safety vests, and traffic cones, workers still frequently end up in the blind spots of trucks, putting them directly in the path of danger.
  • workers ride on the moving vehicles. Although it’s clearly unsafe, it still happens on a day-to-day basis in worksites. Workers frequently hitch a ride on the outside of a vehicle, and all too frequently fall off and become injured.

What steps can we take to eliminate these accidents?
Although there are dozens of workers injured each year in backover accidents, the majority, if not all, are completely preventable with the proper alerts and safety awareness. A few things you can do to help protect yourself, and keep those around you safe from backover accidents:

  • If you are the person driving the truck or construction vehicle, have a partner to look out for workers on the ground. Having an extra set of eyes around you can make you aware of anyone in your blind spot, can help discourage anyone from hopping onto the outside of the vehicle, and can also help you avoid other dangers like passenger cars and construction trenches.
  • Ensure that safety alerts are working. Remind those around you, and even your supervisors, that the alarms and alerts on vehicles are there for a reason. Implement regular safety checks of these back-up alerts just like you would a smoke detector in your home.
  • If you are on the ground, help warn others around you of a moving vehicle. Whistles, megaphones, and other amplifying devices can be helpful to alert workers of oncoming danger.
  • Implement traffic control plans. Work with all employees, drivers, and supervisors to create traffic flow charts within work zones. The more you can control the direction trucks and construction vehicles are moving, the more accidents you will prevent, simply because workers will be aware of their movements.
  • Use proper safety gear. Although it may not prevent an injury every time, wearing proper work gear, designated orange safety gear, hard hats, and more, could help a driver see you, or could help prevent an injury, should you be knocked down or struck by a vehicle.
  • Some work sites are implementing sonar and radar devices that can be worn by individuals to alert them of oncoming traffic, or to alert drivers of the proximity of a worker.

If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one in a heavy machinery or equipment accident, the Indiana construction accident attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you recover the damages you have lost as a result of lost income, hospital bills, pain and suffering, and more. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation with our work comp lawyers.


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