When speaking about equipment and safety, we usually tend to think about lockout/tagout, guards, etc… on manufacturing equipment that is stationary, permanently in place in the workplace. Mobile machinery and equipment however still kill over 400 workers each year.
While flaggers are obviously the ones who are most immediately in danger of being hit by a piece of mobile equipment, anyone who finds himself around trucks, buses, plows and other heavy equipment is at risk. In many cases, with the forementioned vehicles, the line of sight is greatly reduced and blind spots are numerous.
Some basics for mobile equipment safety
1. Everyone working in or around mobile equipment should be wearing high-visibility vests.
2. All heavy equipment operator should be in constant radio contact with a person on the ground whose job it is to prevent accidents.
3. As much as possible, pedestrian and vehicle paths should be kept separated. When and where they must intersect the crossing should be clearly marked so that both pedestrians and drivers know where the area of high risk is.
4. Drivers should backup only when it is absolutely necessary. As much as possible drivers should be looking ahead. Backing up is the single most dangerous movement and where most accidents occur.
5. Backup alarms should be installed on all heavy equipment to warn pedestrians that the drivers’ visibility has just been greatly impaired.
For further documentation (especially for training employees) go to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health website and download the “Mobile Equipment Safety” training document.