Our next several safety topics will cover specific topics that corollate the “A look back at 2017: 14 fatal Lessons to Learn From” safety meeting discussion we had earlier.
Five of the 2017 fatalities in construction involved working with and around heavy equipment.
Several of these fatalities happened when workers were caught in “The Bite” and crushed to death on the job-site. The Bite is when a worker is caught between two objects, such as a vehicle and/or another object such as a vehicle or piece of equipment.
There are rules and requirements in place that should always be followed. Your company also has its own proper procedures and policies. They are there for your protection.
Here are some practical suggestions you should follow;
Always be aware of your surroundings, your head should be on a swivel, always looking out for hazards especially where vehicles and equipment are moving.
Don’t become distracted – cell phone, texting and electronic devices will distract and put you at great risk.
Never put yourself between a vehicle/piece of equipment and a barrier (like a fence or a wall) while it is backing up or moving forward.
All vehicles have blind spots, never assume the driver or operator can see you. Always get eye contact of the operator and that the operator acknowledges you before moving near or around a vehicle or piece of equipment.
Wear high visibility garments while working near moving equipment. During hours of darkness, a retro reflective ANSI class 2 or 3 garment or vest should always be worn. You should always consider using the highest level of PPE when working near equipment. Black shirts with a hi vis banding is not appropriate to wear. The background color must be made up of a hi visibility color.
You cannot stop a piece of equipment from physically moving. Your natural reaction is to stop the equipment/vehicle from moving accidently. All you can do is let the equipment move, settle, and come to a complete stop. Then cautiously move to assess the damage and take the next steps to clean up the site.
Always have a path of escape.
Those persons operating equipment should make sure the equipment/vehicle is in good working order, the brakes are working, the wheels are blocked when being loaded or parked, the lights are operational, the backup alarms are functioning, and you have a seatbelt worn when operating the vehicle/equipment.
Have a spotter when a vehicle is backing up to a trailer, to dock to another vehicle/equipment, or to drop of a load, make sure you are a safe distance away, yet can see the entire backing zone.
Don’t become frustrated, stop, take a deep breath, then safely continue to proceed once it is safe for you, whether you are driving or walking on a job-site.
The embarrassment of a vehicle/equipment accident can be humbling. You are the most valuable asset of your company. A vehicle or equipment is replaceable, you are not. No piece of equipment is worth your life. Your family, friends and employer depend on you to do your job safely and expect you to come home at the end of your work day. You cannot afford to lose your life on the job.