Vehicles, forklifts, excavators, trucks, and graders are designed to make workers’ jobs easier and to help them get work done more quickly. However, these useful pieces of equipment can cause serious injuries and death every year. It’s important to identify struck-by-incident risk factors and understand the hierarchy of hazard controls to help reduce on-the-job injuries and death.
5 Factors Contributing to the Risk of Struck-by Incidents
There are five factors that influence the risk of being struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment: planning and proximity, equipment, task, environment, and people.
Planning and Proximity
When it comes to planning a new project, consider how heavy traffic will be in the area. How close will workers be to vehicles and mobile equipment? Are there pathways that intersect the job site? Think about training and procedures. Train workers to be aware of their surroundings and not to get distracted. Also, consider reporting, schedules, and contractor overlap. Having too many people working in an area makes it easier for a vehicle mishap to occur.
The condition and suitability of equipment are something to pay attention to. When was the excavator last serviced? Is this type of vehicle suitable for the project, or will it cause more harm than good in such a small area? Check to make sure safety devices are installed correctly. Consider attachments, mirrors, and cameras.
Consider the project task, its location, and timing. Do all the workers have a clear goal and objective for the task? The pace and incentives related to a project can contribute to the risk of struck-by incidents. Going back to distractions, are workers using phones or technologies while operating heavy equipment? Are their interactions creating distractions?
The environment factor pertains to the site layout, space, traffic, and pedestrian paths. It also closely interacts with both the planning and proximity and the people factor. Other things to consider are lighting, the time of day, weather, noise, visibility, and blind spots. A rainy dark day makes visibility more difficult, raising the possibility of a worker being struck by a vehicle or equipment.
People play a huge role in preventing struck-by incidents. Consider the team, workers, and supervisors. Is everyone working together and on the same page? Are they staying focused on the task? Listening and looking out for possible collisions? Are they wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)? PPE won’t always come to the rescue in a struck-by incident, but if there is a worst-case scenario, it could dampen the severity of an accident.
How to Manage Collision Incident Risks
Three key steps can help an employer manage the risks of struck-by incidents:
- Consider the five factors that contribute to the risk of worker-vehicle collisions. Take notice of movement patterns in vehicles and mobile equipment.
- Figure out the degree of the risk factor. Is the risk high, medium, or low? Assess how serious the harm could be to the worker.
- Take control of the risks to lessen the effects of the risk.
Controlling the Risk by Using a Hierarchy of Controls
There are five control options in the Hierarchy of Control:
- Engineering Controls
- Administrative Controls
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The most effective control option is elimination. If a vehicle or mobile equipment isn’t necessary for a project, then why use it? Eliminate vehicles and mobile equipment where possible.
The second most effective control option is substitution. If you can’t eliminate risk, like removing a vehicle, establish a one-way rule. Set an entry and exit point to prevent vehicles from driving in the reverse direction. Provide separate entrances and exits for pedestrians and vehicles.
Isolate people from the hazard through the use of engineering controls. This control option isn’t as effective as elimination and substitution, but they encourage safe working, parking, and standing areas. These areas limit access to people, therefore, preventing a struck-by incident. Some examples of engineering controls are movable protective barriers, guardrails, fences, signs, and speed bumps. Workers can also use laser, radar, ultrasonic and trip sensors to detect people and objects.
A less effective control method is administrative controls. Administrative controls revolve around policies, procedures, and the general way an organization conducts work on a daily basis. Warning devices to call attention to hazards can be used to prevent struck-by incidents. Some examples of these devices are: audible reverse alarms, adding lights, reflectors, or beacons to vehicles, installing cameras and mirrors, using high visibility markers, and providing clear signs and warning markers to increase awareness. On the policy and procedure side, employers can create a traffic control plan, maximize communication between coworkers, schedule deliveries during quieter times, inspect vehicles and mobile equipment, provide and mandate training, and include questions on monthly inspections that can help prevent collisions.
Identifying Risk Factors and Implementing the Hierarchy of Control
Workers should consider planning and proximity, equipment, task, environment, and people when going about their workday to reduce struck-by incidents. When employers understand these risk factors, they can implement an effective hierarchy of control where vehicles can be eliminated or other solutions can be tried to decrease vehicles from colliding with workers.
Reducing the Risk of Workers Being Struck by Vehicles and Mobile Equipment, Work Safe BC