Construction Site Vehicle Safety 101

One in four deaths listed as ‘struck by vehicle’ involve construction workers, “more than any other occupation.” according to the United States Department of Labor. Since the construction industry is the most infamous profession for vehicle and/or equipment related injuries, it is important to ensure you and your employees or crew are up to date on the best practices for keeping everyone safe on site. We have compiled a few good construction safety rules to follow while on any site.

“Struck by” incidents are not always easy to avoid because they do not always directly involve a vehicle. Pedestrians, equipment operators, and groundworkers may all be susceptible to materials falling from various equipment, equipment that slips or rolls over, equipment that gets accidentally left in gear, blind spots, and other accidents. 

Practical Construction Safety Rules for Everyone 

Overall, it is best to be aware of your surroundings at all times. However, there are a few specific, concrete steps everyone can take to help general safety around the site: 

Managers

  • Provide Training. Train your crew on heavy equipment hazard awareness as well as safe work practices.
  • Use Trained Operators. By using pre-trained and/or certified equipment operators and spotters, you help limit some accidents.
  • Keep Operating Manuals at Hand. Ensure your operators have access to a copy of the proper operating manual for the vehicles/equipment they will be using.
  • Create Clear Paths for Site Traffic. Limit the amount of backing up vehicles/equipment operators must do throughout the day by clearing path site plans for vehicles, heavy trucks, and deliveries. 
  • Safe Site Setup. Setting up a limited-access zone or swing radius around heavy equipment with barricades or fencing can lessen the chances of certain accidents, such as vehicle crashes. 
  • Keep Everything Inspected. Maintain all equipment to be sure it is in good operating condition.
  • Provide Protection for Workers in Top Loaders. Providing a cab shield or canopy worker protection for top-loading vehicles will protect them from falling hazards.
  • Light Up The Night. Increase lighting and visibility for night workers.
  • Use Safer Equipment. Provide your crew with equipment that has a rollover protective structure (ROPS).
  • Make Up Procedures. Before any maintenance is performed on the equipment, prepare and utilize lockout/tag-out procedures.

Operators:

  • Know Your Equipment. Be sure you are familiar with your equipment and their operating manuals. 
  • Do Your Own Checks. Inspect the equipment you are going to use for any obvious issues before you use it.
  • Just Like Driving a Car. When you get into a piece of machinery, be sure to adjust the back and side mirrors to your personal needs.
  • Check Around. Be sure the coast is clear and that everyone is out of your way before operating a vehicle. 
  • Communicate Clearly. Acknowledge your co-workers and allow safe passage to those that alert you they are approaching.
  • Avoid Obvious Hazards. Keep motor vehicles and equipment parallel to any slopes or embankments to prevent a slip down that could be extremely dangerous.
  • Practice Proper Motor Vehicle Safety. Always turn off the engine and engage brakes before leaving equipment and vehicles for any reason.
  • Practice Fall Protection. Always face the equipment and maintain three points of contact, while getting on and off the equipment to prevent falls or other accidents.
  • Protect Yourself. Be sure any top-loading vehicle has cab shields and canopy protection.
  • Don’t Do Too Much. Avoid overloading vehicles. There are limits and restrictions for a reason.
  • Always Wear a Seat Belt. Always wear the seat belt in your machine. It, too, is there for a reason.

Spotters: 

  • Be Visible. Wear highly visible clothing at all times to be sure you aren’t missed.
  • Understand the Procedure. Know traffic control hand signals and guidance procedures to be sure operators can safely and effectively move around the worksite. 

Ground-Workers:

  • Know The Blind Spots. Don’t stand in an operator’s blind spot.
  • Work Elsewhere. Don’t set up a work area around heavy construction equipment. 
  • Know Your Surroundings. Never walk under or work under a suspended load.
  • Be a Clear Communicator. Be absolutely sure that you have made eye contact with operators and that they’ve noticed you by giving some sort of signal before you get close to operating equipment.
  • Don’t Use Unapproved Seats. Only ride in approved seats and always wear a seat belt.
  • Be Visible. Always wear high-visibility clothing when working around heavy working equipment.

Working in the construction industry, it can be easy to get used to being around heavy machinery every day and become complacent. However, that is one of the most dangerous things you can do to yourself. Always stay aware, stay safe, and follow best practices when on the worksite.


Photo by Luke Besley on Unsplash

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