Preventing Vehicle Accidents at Construction Site

Every year in the construction industry, people are killed or injured as a result of being struck by moving vehicles. Accidents occur throughout the construction process, from ground works to finishing works. Managers, workers, site visitors and the public can all be at risk if construction vehicle activities are not properly managed and controlled. This not only affects the lives of workers but can also result in material damage. So it is necessary to take appropriate actions to eliminate hazards and control risks that arise from the use of vehicles in the construction industry, including cars, vans, lorries, low-loaders, earth-moving machinery, tractors and lift trucks.

Construction work is considered to be one of the most hazardous industrial activities. The rate of injury in the construction industry is higher than in other industries. It follows that by removing or reducing the risk of accidents involving vehicles on construction sites, there can be a significant reduction in the number of fatal accidents in this sector.

Accident prevention does not start when work begins on site. By good design and planning in the prebuilt phase, architects, designers and planners can significantly reduce the risk of vehicle accidents.

Different Types of Accidents

  • People are struck or run over by moving vehicles (e.g. during reversing)
  • Falling from vehicles
  • Struck by objects falling from vehicles
  • Injured because of vehicles overturning

Common Causes of Accidents

  • Vehicles or their loads striking people, particularly when reversing
  • Vehicles striking services and obstructions
  • Manufacturers’ instructions for safe use being disregarded
  • Inadequate training of drivers and signalers
  • Unsafe loading and transportation of materials on vehicles

Risk Assessment to Prevent Accidents

In order to protect workers’ health and safety, the employer should carry out a risk assessment and cooperate with other contractors on site to ensure that all workers on site are protected. The assessment should be carried out by someone with appropriate training and experience. The complexity of the risk assessment will depend upon the size and type of site. There are several models for carrying out a risk assessment. Here is one step-by-step approach.

Look for the Hazards

Think about the work to be done and identify hazards that come along with the presence of vehicles at the workplace (e.g. reversing operations, loading, unloading). Remember, a hazard is anything that can cause harm (i.e. the danger), the risk is the chance of harm being done.

Some of the factors that may make vehicle accidents more likely are:

  • Exposure to difficult weather conditions
  • Rough access roads
  • Time Pressure
  • The presence of workers from different contractors on site.

Prevention Tips

  • Talk to the workers and their representatives. Involve them in the risk assessment process and tell them what they can do to reduce risk.
  • A further approach to tackle the problem is to have everyone involved in looking at and discussing causes of near-miss accidents and minor accidents.
  • These reflections might give an idea of what can be improved in working procedures and the working environment or even employee behavior to prevent future risks.

In particular the following should be considered:

1. Running Over Pedestrians: The most common cause of death in a vehicle accident at work is where a person is run over by a vehicle. The victim may be a worker or even the operator himself. The most common causes of such accidents are:

  • Poor visibility
  • Inadequate brakes (possibly from lack of maintenance)
  • Carelessly parked vehicles (e.g. being parked on a slope without being adequately secured)
  • Unsafe coupling and uncoupling of trailers
  • Untrained drivers

2. Overturning of Vehicles: Nearly a fifth of all deaths in workplace transport accidents are due to vehicles overturning. Forklift trucks, compact dumpers, tipper lorries and tractors are all especially prone to overturning, because of their-

  • High center of gravity,
  • Working on uneven ground,
  • Moving on slopes or unbalanced loads.

Other risks on construction sites with vehicles are:

  • Falls on or from vehicles when climbing on and off
  • People being struck by load, for example when using a crane or forklift truck
  • Working near overhead power lines, while lifting the trailer or working with a crane
  • Malfunctioning vehicles and
  • Collisions with objects including other vehicles

Evaluate the risks and decide on action

Evaluate the risk for each hazard, which means calculating the likelihood that any harm occurs and how severe it will probably be. If someone could be hurt:

  • Can the hazard be removed completely?
  • Can the risk be controlled?
  • Can protective measures be taken to protect the whole workforce?
  • Is personal protective equipment needed to protect the worker from a risk that cannot be adequately controlled by collective preventive measures?

Take action

After completing the risk assessment, list the preventive measures needed in order of priority, then take action, involving the workers and their representatives in the process. Actions should be focused on preventive measures (to stop the accident or ill health occurring in the first place), but consideration should also be given to measures to minimize harm in the event of an accident, ill health, or emergency.

As part of preventive actions, it is important to ensure that all workers receive appropriate information, education, and training. Provide good documentation of hazards and risks discovered, of groups harmed most often and the kind of injury, of measures to improve OSH and avoid the specific hazards and risks and their effectiveness.
When considering preventive actions, look at the following points:

  • Workplace
  • Work equipment (e.g. the vehicle)
  • Worker
  • Work management

Safety Measures for Safe Construction Site

  • Establish a traffic plan for the site.
  • Ensure all visiting drivers report to site management before entering the site.
  • Ensure that vehicles and pedestrians are segregated where possible.
  • Check that the layout of routes is appropriate for vehicle and pedestrian activities. Where possible segregate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes. Provide a physical barrier to achieve the segregation. If not, adequate warnings must be in place. Ensure there are suitable pedestrian crossing points on vehicle routes.
  • Avoid the need for reversing by: better design of the workplace; if unavoidable, use safe systems of work for reversing, and, where risks cannot be eliminated by other means, and provide and use a trained signaler to assist the vehicle driver.
  • Consider introducing a one -way traffic system to reduce the risk of collisions.
  • Check that vehicle traffic routes are suitable for the types and quantity of vehicles that use them. Ensure they are wide enough and that floor and road surfaces are kept in good condition. Remove obstructions where possible, otherwise, make sure they are clearly visible. Avoid including sharp bends in road layouts. Provide suitable fixed mirrors at blind corners.
  • Check that suitable safety features are provided. Direction, speed limit and priority signs may be needed. Determine whether physical speed restrictions such as speed bumps are necessary. Edges of loading bays, pits etc. must be clearly marked and fitted with a barrier if possible.
  • Put in clear road markings.
  • Take steps to improve visibility, for example, by the installation of mirrors.
  • Where necessary, install speed ramps and warning signs.
  • Provide supportive structures where necessary to prevent collapse and to prevent vehicles running of the roadway.
  • Check that lighting and visibility provide safe passage through the work site (both inside and outside). Potential hazards, e.g. road junctions, pedestrians and obstructions must be clearly visible.
  • Ensure that traffic routes are safe.

Safe Vehicles for Construction Site:

  • Ensure that a safe and suitable vehicle is being used.
  • Vehicles should be purchased with appropriate safety features and comply with required standards.
  • Carry out regular inspections and maintenance on all vehicles
  • Apply speed limiter on vehicles where necessary
  • Apply control systems to prevent vehicles from moving when fork lift trucks are loading or unloading.
  • Apply radar sensors to warn drivers if reversing too near to an object where necessary.
  • Ensure that loads are properly secure.
  • Check that there is a safe means of access to and exit from the vehicle.
  • Check whether the vehicle requires audible warning devices e.g. on reversing lorries, and flashing beacons on vehicles to increase their visibility.
  • Check whether the driver has adequate protection against overturning or being hit by falling objects. Apply rollover protective systems ROPS and falling-object protective structures FOPS to protect the driver where necessary.

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