Construction sites are often congested places full of many workers performing a variety of jobs. Many of the machines used there are considered “heavy equipment” and are capable of delivering tremendous force. As a result, accidents involving construction vehicles are often catastrophic and can result in death or a life-altering injury.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 40 percent of fatal work injuries in the construction industry stem from vehicle accidents. These include crashes between vehicles and cave-ins caused by vehicles as well as workers falling from vehicles, workers being hit by vehicles, and workers being hit by objects dropping off of or knocked into by vehicles. Construction vehicles have highly specific purposes, and their typically bulky design makes them unable to respond quickly to the need to stop or change direction. Vehicles commonly found at construction sites include:
- Cement trucks
- Dump trucks
- Front-end loaders
- Pickup trucks
- Pipe layers
Following Safety Regulations?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires regular maintenance of construction equipment and outlines specific steps that must be followed to ensure different pieces of equipment function properly, are used safely, and do not pose undue risks to workers. OSHA also recommends:
- Being careful not to exceed a vehicle’s rated load or lift capacity
- Checking vehicles before each shift to ensure all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition
- Lowering or blocking bulldozer and scraper blades, end-loader buckets, dump bodies, etc., when not in use
- Making sure all personnel are in the clear before using dumping or lifting devices
- Not driving a vehicle in reverse gear unless it has an audible reverse alarm or another worker signals that it is safe to back up
- Operating vehicles only on marked pathways
- Setting parking brakes when vehicles are not in use and chocking the wheels if they are on an incline
- Using traffic signs, barricades, or flaggers when construction takes place near public roadways
- Wearing seat belts that meet OSHA standards
- Wearing warning clothes such as reflective red or orange vests.
Areas of High Risk
Many construction site deaths that involve heavy equipment happen in traffic work zones for highway, street, and bridge construction. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than 20,000 workers are injured in road construction work zones each year, while fatalities in construction work zones averaged 778 from 1994 through 1999, 1060 from 2000 through 2006, and 669 from 2007 through 2012. The primary causes of these worker fatalities were runovers/backovers (often by dump trucks), collisions between vehicles, and being caught between or struck by construction equipment and objects.
Developers, general contractors, and subcontractors are legally obligated to make sure that their jobsites are safe. To minimize hazards, vehicle operators and those who work near construction vehicles must follow all safety rules. Many accidents can be traced to lapses in safety measures, such as:
- Defective brakes
- Equipment not serviced regularly
- Excessive or unbalanced loads
- Inadequate signage
- Inattentive, distracted, or drunk driving
- Malfunctioning reverse alarm signals
- Not using seat belts
- Vehicles not furnished with required safety warnings
- Workers not properly trained.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
Workers’ compensation laws bar lawsuits against employers, but other parties on a construction site such as a non-employer contractor, equipment manufacturer, or driver may be held liable through a third-party claim. If you have been injured in a Kentucky construction equipment accident due to another’s negligence, you may have legal grounds to recover compensation for medical bills, lost time from work, and pain and suffering.
Learn more about how the Johnson Law Firm can investigate your accident to ensure you get all the financial recovery you deserve. Call us toll-free at 606-433-0682, or fill out this online form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights and options for recovering compensation. Based in Pikeville, KY, we represent injured workers in Pike County and throughout the region.