Wednesday, July 19, 2017
FATAL BACKOVER WORKER ALERT AT CONSTRUCTION SITES
It is always very sad to see a young man working for a living in the cold weather to die at a construction site. Please read this safety alert and ensure that your staff implements the recommendations.
On February 15, 2014, a 26 year old male employee working as a “Swamper” (driver apprentice) for an oil field trucking company, was fatally injured when he was backed over by a co-worker operating a gas engine, 1-ton dually, welding truck. The welding truck was in the process of relocating past winch truck operations on the well site at the time of the incident.
The company was in preparation for a “rig up stage” at a new well drill site. Just prior to the incident, the welding truck driver and the winch truck employees of the same company met and discussed the planned work. All three employees were aware the welding truck would be required to back up from where it was located, and drive past the swamper and winch truck driver’s location.
The Swamper was assisting the winch truck driver in the relocation of mud and water tanks. After the previous meeting, the winch truck driver returned to his truck, and the Swamper assisted in horizontal rigging of the tank to winch equipment. The welder returned to his truck to move it.
At the time of the accident the welding truck driver was operating a truck without benefit of back- up alarm or spotter. As the welding truck driver backed his vehicle up to the new location, the swamper positioned himself along the storage tank being winched. The swamper stepped backward into the path of the welding truck, the welding truck passed completely over the victim.
The decedent died of his injuries at the scene.
Cause and Significant Contributing Factors:
· The welding truck driver arrived on site after the morning job safety analysis (JSA) and tailgate safety meeting.
· All three workers failed to identify the hazards present on location.
· There were four different diesel engines running in the area of the incident, creating significant background noise. The diesel engine noise and winds diminished the victim’s ability to hear the much quieter gasoline engine of the welding truck.
· The victim was wearing a hooded sweatshirt under FRC coveralls, which created limited peripheral vision.
· The victim inadvertently positioned himself in the path of the welding truck to avoid hazards associated with the winching operation he was assisting with.
· The victim had his back to the driver; the driver had his back to the victim.
· The driver of the welding truck could not see directly to the rear due to truck design, obstructed view created by the welding equipment and the driver did not ask for a spotter to assist.
· The gas engine welding truck was never equipped with a back-up alarm.
· The victim did not offer to be a spotter, and the winch truck driver did not offer to be a spotter.
· The trucking company did have a vehicle inspection form, but it was used inconsistently.
· The inspection form did not have a vehicle specific format, or a back-up alarm check.
· The winch truck driver was likely in transition of view; he was shifting from left side mirror to right side mirror and rear window view of winch process.
· Brief all employees on the facts and circumstances of this fatal incident.
· In accordance with OSHA Construction Standards, properly equip motor vehicles used in construction environments with audible devices that may be heard over other sounds when being backed-up.
· Revisit safety programs and JSA information to ensure they are applicable to OSHA standards necessary for the work to be performed.
· Use a spotter when backing equipment near other personnel as required.
· Utilize high visibility outer garments.
· Be aware of your surroundings.
· Avoid wearing clothing or hooded garments which limit your field of view.
· Use of approved FRC helmet liners is preferred, as they turn with your head.
· Ensure that pre-tour safety meetings are conducted to discuss the work to be performed, identifying the potential safety hazards and implementing safe work procedures to control hazards.
· Ensure the safety meeting information is provided to all employees.
A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. These incidents can be prevented. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. These kinds of incidents can occur in different ways. For example:
On June 18, 2009, an employee was working inside a work zone wearing his reflective safety vest. A dump truck operating in the work zone backed up and struck the employee with the rear passenger side wheels. The employee was killed. The dump truck had an audible back up alarm and operating lights. (OSHA Inspection Number 313225377)
On June 9, 2010, an employee was standing on the ground in front of a loading dock facing into the building while a tractor trailer was backing into the same dock. The trailer crushed the employee between the trailer and the dock. (OSHA Inspection Number 314460940).
The purpose of this webpage is to provide information about the hazards of backovers; solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents; articles and resources; and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.
How do backover incidents occur?
Backover accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Drivers may not be able to see a worker in their blind spot. Workers may not hear backup alarms because of other worksite noises or because the alarms are not functioning. A spotter assisting one truck may not see another truck behind him. Workers riding on vehicles may fall off and get backed over. Drivers may assume that the area is clear and not look in the direction of travel (PDF*). Sometimes, it is unclear why a worker was in the path of a backing vehicle. A combination of factors can also lead to backover incidents.
What can be done to prevent backover incidents?
Many solutions exist to prevent backover incidents. Drivers can use a spotter to help them back up their vehicles. Video cameras with in-vehicle display monitors can give drivers a view of what is behind them. Proximity detection devices, such as radar and sonar, can alert drivers to objects that are behind them. Tag-based systems can inform drivers when other employees are behind the vehicle and can alert employees when they walk near a vehicle equipped to communicate with the tag worn by the employee. On some work sites, employers can create internal traffic control plans, which tell the drivers where to drive and can reduce the need to back up. In some cases, internal traffic control plans can also be used to separate employees on foot from operating equipment.
Training is another tool to prevent backover incidents. Blind spots behind and around vehicles are not immediately obvious to employees on foot. By training employees on where those blind spots are and how to avoid being in them, employers can prevent some backover incidents. One component of this training can include putting employees who will be working around vehicles in the driver’s seat to get a feel for where the blind spots are and what, exactly, the drivers can see. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) several blind spot diagrams that can help explain what drivers of various large trucks can see.
Vehicles Causing the Most Backover Fatalities 2005-2010+
NEW Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths from Backing Construction Vehicles and Equipment at Roadway Construction Worksites (PDF*). NIOSH, (2014, June)
Stakeholder meeting [Jan. 8-9, 2013, in Washington, D.C. and Feb. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas]. OSHA Trade News Release, (2012, December 17).
Preventing Backovers. Safety Clearinghouses. Provides links to information relating to backover incidents in highway work zones.
Motor Vehicle Safety. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.