Construction Accidents - Backing up and rear warning devices

Just recently my office settled an accidental back over case and so the news item by the Gazetteonline.com from Cedar Rapids caught my attention. You might wonder how this can happen and how to prevent it from happening to you or your loved one. OSHA has rules that apply to certain industries that are designed to reduce the number of fatalities from backing over someone at a work site.

In the case reported it happened at an Iowa sand mine in Clayton County. A female worker was accidentally backed over and killed by an end loader at 8:00 a.m. There is no indication of what time the shift began or what the worker was doing at the time she was backed over. Workers on work sites are busy with individual duties and can’t have eyes in the back of their head. Spotters can help avoid these mishaps along with auditory rear warning devices. Rear warning devices have to work, shouldn’t be plugged up or covered or disconnected. They should be appropriately loud and distinct enough for the work zone. If the vehicle was manufactured with a rear warning device it can not be disconnected without a written consent of the manufacturer. If the rear alarm doesn’t work the vehicle shouldn’t be used until it’s repaired. OSHA has specific rules based on the industry and the history of past accidents.

This is in response to your May 12 letter requesting compliance determinations for your "Radar Backup Alarm System 202" as it relates to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard 29 CFR 1926.601(b)(4)(i). That provision addresses reverse signal alarms for motor vehicles.”

Before operating equipment make sure it operates properly. If it doesn’t then get it fixed or don’t operate the equipment. If you have no choice then use spotters.

The claim is often times made by the operator that the presence of warning bells and buzzers causes more confusion on the job site. OSHA doesn't buy this argument nor should you. It's not about being manly or gutsy to work without one. Last I checked it's not manly to be six feet under. All rear warning devices should work. If the rig you're driving doesn't have one, then don't drive it until it does or use a spotter in those situation where other workers on the site are at risk.

Workers’ compensation benefits are also available to the dependents of the deceased worker.

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