It goes without saying that anyone entering a work site needs to be alert and cautious at all times but with all the machinery, equipment and work processes on a site, all contributing to noise it becomes easy for workers (or visitors to the site) to miss important, warning noises such as the reversing beepers of heavy machinery and vehicles.
It is important that while on a construction site where heavy machinery and vehicles are in operation, we are not only on the lookout for these vehicles but also aware of their reversing beepers. This is particularly important because pedestrians being run over or struck by reversing vehicles is one of the major causes of injuries and deaths on construction sites.
Although these types of incidents are commonly occurring on Australian construction sites, a recent incident which took place on a site in Cheltenham in the UK highlights the need for attention to reversing beepers. A civil engineering firm was fined after a worker was seriously injured by a reversing tipper truck at one of its work sites.
The worker was struck down from behind by a vehicle which was delivering goods to the site last year. The worker suffered serious injuries to his leg because of the incident, including a severed artery, a severely damaged thigh muscle and a large puncture wound. He had to be airlifted to hospital and was off work for 7 weeks following the incident.
An article on PPConstructionSafety.com explains what happened:
On Friday, Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how the man’s employer, Swindon-based John O’Flynn Developments Limited, failed to put adequate safety measures in place to prevent the incident. Following an investigation, the company was prosecuted by the HSE after it found that not enough was done to segregate workers on the ground from moving vehicles.
The injured working was using a noisy floor saw to cut a channel in a roadway when he was struck. The road should have been closed to site traffic, or vehicle movements closely supervised and monitored to ensure there was no risk.
Following the hearing, the health and safety inspector said that the company had to be held liable because they were aware of the risks associated with allowing vehicles unrestricted access on construction sites but still allowed numerous vehicles to make deliveries by passing through the area where the injured worker and other workers were also positioned.
The company failed to implement the necessary measures to keep workers safe, such as separating workers from vehicles. The accident above occurred because the worker was working with his back to the reversing vehicle and because of the noise on the site, he was not able to hear it coming. The company failed to implement basic safety measures and a worker suffered serious injury as a result. In this case or similar ones companies need to implement other control measures to ensure that workers and vehicles are separated or warned of each other. The control measures that need to be implemented will depend on the site’s unique circumstances which need to be identified, assessed and then a safety plan needs to be developed taking all risks into consideration.