Struck by Incidents within the Workplace
When looking at accident reports and statistics from workplaces around the country, it is hard to ignore just how dangerous struck-by incidents can be. While their frequency isn’t quite as high as many other accidents at work, the severity of this type of incident is often very high.
One of the biggest reasons that such a high percentage of struck-by incidents cause serious injuries or fatalities is because they often involve large vehicles that can cause devastating injuries in just seconds. In fact, about 75% of all the fatalities in this category are caused by heavy equipment on the job site.
With this in mind, it is clearly a good idea to take the time to do all you can to minimize this type of risk at any worksite. This is especially important on construction sites, since that is where the bulk of struck-by incidents occur. To attempt to reduce the risks of this type of incident, consider the following five tips and ideas on improving facility safety in this area.
5 Tips to Reduce Struck by Incidents
1. Keeping People & Vehicles Separated
This one may sound obvious, but it is extremely important. The biggest thing you can do to help reduce struck-by incidents is finding ways to make sure that vehicles are never driving in areas where people may be walking. When it is not possible, limiting the locations where both people and vehicles are as much as possible can be helpful.
One simple way of doing this is by using floor marking tape. This type of floor marking tape is easy to put down on the facility floor so that everyone knows that a vehicle may be driving in the area. Your can even use other types of floor markings to make it clear that one area is for people walking and the other is for vehicles.
When you’re working on a construction site where you can’t put tape on the ground because it is made of dirt, you can use safety signs (which you can find here) throughout the area to identify what types of equipment should go where.
You may need to get creative on ways to help keep people and vehicles away from each other, depending on the layout of the facility. Even if it causes some minor inconveniences though, it will be well worth the effort.
2. Increase Visibility
Another contributor to struck-by incidents is that visibility of either the driver or the person walking doesn’t have good visibility. This is especially popular around corners or other areas where there are large objects blocking your sight. The following items can help to improve visibility, or at least reduce the risk when visibility is less than optimal:
- Improve Lighting – Whether you are operating inside a facility, or outside at a construction site after dark, a lack of light can be very dangerous. Installing proper lighting, or bringing in temporary lighting solutions can keep everyone safer in many ways.
- Require Reduced Speed – If someone is driving any type of vehicle and they approach a corner, they should be required to slow down, even if they aren’t turning. Even slowing down a little bit can give them the added time they need to be able to avoid hitting someone.
- Making Noise – Many indoor vehicles are very quiet when they are operating because they have electric motors. While this is a good thing in many cases, it can also increase danger. When traveling through an intersection or around corners, consider making it a requirement to blast the horn or make other noise to alert people that you are coming.
Take some time to come up with more ideas on how you can reduce the risk that is present when people have reduced visibility. Even small things can make a major difference in this scenario.
3. Take Extra Care on Steep Hills or Ramps
When a vehicle is traveling up or down a hill of any type, they will require significantly more space to stop or otherwise maneuver around a person in the area. In addition, the hill can make the vehicle less stable, which could cause it to tip over, which is often another type of struck-by incident.
Whenever operating on a hill or other similar situation, drivers should slow down and take extra precautions to avoid dangers. If it is not possible to go slowly, take the time before going onto the hill to ensure everyone is out of the way. You can even consider putting up a safety sign so that nobody enters the area while vehicle are driving on the hill.
4. Take Precautions when in Reverse
When operating a vehicle in reverse you absolutely must take some extra precautions. By its very nature, you won’t be able to see as well when going backwards, which increases the danger significantly. In addition, most people won’t expect a vehicle to move backward unexpectedly, so they may not be ready to react.
The following are some important precautions that should be taken before even putting any vehicle in reverse:
- Audible Alarm – Most large vehicles today are equipped with an audible alarm that activates automatically when in reverse. Check to make sure all vehicles in the facility have this feature, and if any don’t, make sure to add it. There are some after-market solutions that can provide this feature.
- Manually Inspect the Area – Before backing up, it is a good idea to get out of the vehicle and manually inspect the area to ensure it is all clear. This will only take a moment, and could end up saving someone’s life.
- Working with a Team – For extra-large vehicles or busy areas, consider having a second (or even third) person standing in the area to make sure nobody enters it while backing up. Make sure these ‘spotters’ have a way to communicate with the driver in case someone does approach.
Operating in reverse can be very dangerous, but when you take these and other precautions, you can avoid almost all risk of a struck-by incident.
5. Use Vehicles Properly
Just like all other tools in the workplace, vehicles have a specific purpose that they are designed for. Unfortunately, they are all too often used for things outside the scope of their ability. Another related problem is that people don’t use all the features on these vehicles to keep everyone safe.
The following are key examples of how using a vehicle improperly can cause significant risk:
- Carrying Passengers Improperly – People often try to ‘hitch a ride’ on a vehicle in a facility or construction site. Unless there is a specific passenger seat, this is not going to be safe. When someone is hanging on to the side of a vehicle, for example, they may end up hitting a wall or another person.
- Failing to use Parking Break – Vehicle operators often think that the vehicle is secure with just the normal park gear break engaged. When it is on even a slight hill, however, it is important to engage the parking (or emergency) break to ensure it is stable. If the normal break is not sufficient, it could start moving unexpectedly and cause significant injuries.
- Follow Vehicles Rated Load – Overloading a vehicle will make it unstable and dangerous. It often also obstructs the driver’s view significantly.
- Use Seatbelts & Other Safety Features – Seatbelts are in construction vehicles for a reason. Even if you’re going slow, the seatbelt can help keep you firmly in your seat so you remain in control of the vehicle at all times.
Focus on Safety
As you can see, there are quite a few things you can do to help improve the safety of your facility and reduce the risk of struck-by incidents. While some of them may seem inconvenient, they are well worth the effort. By following these five tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of this type of incident in your facility, or on any jobsite.