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 or external mirrors.
While working on a construction site, workers need to be aware of moving vehicles and equipment.
Accidents have resulted in deaths of workers who were hit by a vehicle mounted aerial device that was being moved from one location to another. Another incident occurred when a dump truck, used on a road repair project, was backing into the unloading area and ran over a worker involved in that road maintenance work.
In both cases, the accidents were caused by a lack of proper signaling and improper work procedures. Poor sightlines and lack of visibility are inherent with some equipment used on construction projects and in industrial workplaces. This is especially true when the equipment is backing up or moving in areas where space is limited and the turning radius is tight.
Warning devices, such as back-up alarms and/or flashing lights are provided on some of the mobile equipment, but they are not always sufficient to ensure worker protection. This is especially true on projects where there are many pieces of equipment, constant movement, and high noise levels. Proper site planning, traffic control systems, and worker training are the best ways to reduce accidents where vehicles and employees must work in the same area.
Pre-job Risk Assessment – Consider These Points:
- Consider the suitability of providing back-up alarms on all mobile equipment.
- Whenever possible, plan the project to allow for drive-through operations that will limit the need for vehicles to back-up.
- Reduce foot traffic in areas where mobile equipment is to be working.
- Establish designated travel areas, ideally with barricades or other means to set apart from work locations.
- High-Visibility Clothing;
- Backup Alarms;
- Protective Barriers;
- Observer; and
If you must have workers and mobile equipment working in the same area, establish a traffic control system. Where you have heavy traffic, a signal person or traffic spotter should be designated to control traffic movement at the site. The signal person must be properly trained, wear reflective fluorescent blaze outer wear, where safety footwear, hardware, and other protective equipment required on the project, and use clearly understood hand signals or standard traffic control devices (STOP paddle, etc.).
The signal person must know driver “blind spots” and always remain visible to the driver and any workers in the travel area. The signal person must make eye contact with the driver prior to signaling or changing location. The driver must always obey the signal person and never back up or move in congested areas without the signal person indicating the path is clear. The driver must be trained to understand all signals used by the signal person. Workers on foot should also be trained to recognize driver blind spots and avoid entering those areas.
- Upon walking onto a work area, the man on the ground has the primary responsibility to become aware of, and to adapt to the available solutions.
- Required personal protective equipment;
- Restricted areas;
- Understanding equipment traffic patterns before walking through; and
- Making the equipment operators aware of your presence.
BE ALERT…EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!!
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