Beware Moving Vehicles on Construction Sites

Workers engaged in construction work need to be aware and prepared for the risks involved with working on a site where heavy vehicles and machinery are also in operation.

Numerous accidents have occurred, some fatal as a result of heavy vehicles and machinery on construction sites. The main types of these accidents occur when people are struck or run over by moving vehicles (e.g. during reversing); people fall from vehicles, workers are struck by objects falling from vehicles such as rubble or injured because of vehicles overturning.

Sadly most incidents involving heavy vehicles and machinery that cause injuries to workers occur at the hands of another worker and are seldom self-inflicted, that is why it is so important for workers to be trained, competent, alert and constantly aware of their surroundings while on site.

The most common cause of death in a vehicle accident at work is where a person is run over by a vehicle. The victim may be another worker or even the operator.

The most common causes of such accidents are:

  • Poor visibility
  • Inadequate brakes (possibly from lack of maintenance),
  • Carelessly parked vehicles (e.g. being parked on a slope without being adequately secured)
  • Unsafe coupling and uncoupling of trailers and
  • Untrained drivers

If these issues are tackled by principal contractors and there risks controlled, it is less likely they will occur and injure, maim or even kill workers or other innocent pedestrians.

Other less common but equally dangerous incidents involving these vehicles include:

  • Falls on or from vehicles when climbing on and off;
  • People being struck by load, for example when using a crane or forklift truck;
  • Working near overhead power lines, while lifting the trailer or working with a crane;
  • Malfunctioning vehicles and
  • Collisions with objects including other vehicles.

There are a number of safety procedures that can be implemented to ensure a safer workplace where construction vehicles are in operation. These include:

  • Establishing a traffic plan for the site and ensuring workers are trained in it and have access to it
  • Ensure all visiting drivers report to site management before entering the site
  • Ensure that vehicles and pedestrians are kept apart as much as possible
  • Check that the layout of routes is appropriate for vehicle and pedestrian activities. Where possible separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes and provide a physical barrier.
  • Provide warning signs to indicate to pedestrians that vehicles are in operations and provide suitable pedestrian crossing points on vehicle routes.
  • If at all possible avoid the need for reversing. This can be done by introducing better design of the workplace. Alternatively use safe systems of work for reversing andwhere risks cannot be eliminated by other means provide and use a trained signaller to assist the vehicle driver.

Being prepared and ensuring that employees know the plan is crucial in ensuring their safety. In order to educate them about safety plans and procedures it is vital they undergo safety training. This includes both general safety training in the form of the White Card and site specific training, both of which will equip them to stay safe and keep others safe while on site.

This update endorsed by the safety training team at www.whitecardaustralia.com.au

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