Thursday, December 12, 2013

Safely Backing Up Behicles

All incidents involving vehicles and equipment that are backing up are preventable. In many cases these incidents involve a vehicle or piece of equipment striking another tool, vehicle or machine. The cost to repair tools, equipment and vehicles impacts the profit of the project, but most importantly, that piece of equipment or that car could have been a person...a co-worker...a life.

Avoiding The Hazard.  Try to avoid backing whenever possible. If practical, park your vehicle so that the vehicle can be driven forward when it is time to leave. When pulling into a parking space, back in when possible to avoid obstructions that may hinder backing out at a later time.

Get Assistance.  When backing on a jobsite, ask someone trustworthy outside the vehicle to guide you. Start backing before conditions can change and use hand signals with your ground guide since verbal directions might not be heard in a construction setting. If there is no one to guide you, walk to the back of the vehicle and check for any obstructions. Look at the entire environment to be certain that nothing is likely to roll up or walk up behind the vehicle in the time it takes you to return to your seat and back up.

Heighten Your Awareness.  Once behind the wheel, with the vehicle in reverse, check the rear again by turning and visually "clearing" the path that the vehicle will take. When backing a vehicle, do so slowly and with extreme care, using all mirrors. It is a good practice to roll down your window and turn off the radio so that you can hear horns and shouts warning you to stop. Also, blow the horn if necessary, to warn everyone that you are going to back up. Proper communication with other employees can make backing an easier task.

These tips should be used whenever you're backing up any motorized vehicle, whether you're at home or at work. You may never know how many incidents may have been prevented by using these tips. However, I am sure you will never forget the time you fail to follow these tips and the obstruction behind your vehicle/equipment is a pedestrian, a co-worker, or a child.

Rick Brooks, CSP
Safety Director