Features, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, New York

Heavy Machinery Accidents: Tragic and Preventable

January 27, 2020

By Neil Kalra

There are many different construction site accidents associated with heavy equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, front-end loaders, dump trucks, excavators and the like. Such heavy equipment is a necessity on nearly every construction project. In July 2019 in the Bronx, a 47-year-old welder was struck and killed by an excavator bucket at a concrete-recycling plant.

Around a thousand construction workers are killed on job sites every year in the US. And that number’s gradually increased every year since 2013 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). An alarming number of those deaths and injuries were caused by heavy equipment. Most occurred when the victim was either struck by moving equipment, or caught-in or between heavy machinery and another impediment (wall, another machine, etc).

Struck-By Accidents: the Most Common

Struck-by incidents are one of the biggest fatality accidents according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): about 75 percent.

That’s why it’s everyone’s responsibility to look out for each other while working around heavy equipment. Work areas where heavy machinery is must be clearly marked and barricaded. Non-essential foot traffic should be prohibited in these restricted work areas. Ground personnel entering these work areas must make their presence known to all machine operators, spotters and ground crew.

Operators should avoid backing whenever possible. And they should stop work if they lose sight of any ground personnel.  Groundworkers should also keep watch on the operator. And if they lose sight of him in the cab’s mirrors, they must leave immediately or make their presence known to a spotter.

Spotters, the Traffic Cops for Heavy Machinery on a Construction Site

A spotter should be used if equipment is operating in a tight area, or around any ground personnel. And these people must be on their toes and aware of not only the position and tasks of the heavy equipment operator, but all ground personnel in close proximity to the machine’s work area. Other things spotters need to keep in mind are:

  • Never walk behind the equipment while spotting. Instead, stand in the area where the equipment is going and flag the operator toward you.
  • Agree on hand signals with equipment operators beforehand.
  • Operators should stop anytime they lose sight of the spotter.
  • Inspect the work area for hazards or fixed objects the equipment could strike (or ground workers, etc might trip over) and remove them.

The Other Safety Threat: Caught-in/betweens

They’re very similar to struck-bys; but different too. A struck-by is when an object strikes the victim and causes the injury. A caught-in/between is an injury due to being pinned or crushed between two objects. An excavator bucket swinging around and striking a person in an open field – like the incident in the Bronx – is a struck-by incident.

An excavator counter weight that turns and pins a person against, for example, a wall is a caught-in (or between) incident. Many of the same safeguards discussed in the “struck-by” portion of this article will protect workers from being involved in caught-in or between incidents. That’s why ground workers should always leave themselves an “out” when working hear heavy machinery. 

Everyone on a construction site must look out for themselves and each other by paying attention to any indications of malfunctions or other problems with any heavy machinery at the job site.

Whether you or a family member was injured due to a car accident, commercial vehicle accident, or semi-truck accident, you may be entitled to full benefits and compensation. Know your rights and get the answers you deserve. The attorneys at Kalra Law Firm are dedicated to getting car accident victims the compensation they deserve. Call our office now to speak with one of our experienced car accident lawyers to represent you in your case.  We offer a free initial consultation and will not charge unless we win your case. Call our New York City and Queens car accident lawyers today if you have any questions about a car accident you were involved in. Call us at (718) 897-2211 www.unionlawyer.com

January 27, 2020

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