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Date PostedJune 29, 2012

Man crushed in Bendigo construction site incident

Two incidents that occurred recently highlighted the danger of being crushed on a construction site.

The first incident occurred on a Bendigo construction site where a young man was crushed between a truck and concrete pouring equipment.

ABC.net.au had this to report on the issue:

A WorkSafe investigation has begun into an accident at a Bendigo construction site yesterday.

WorkSafe’s Michael Birt says a man aged in his 20s was crushed between a truck and concrete pouring equipment on Mollison Street, suffering serious injuries.

He says investigators will visit the scene.

“They’ll be talking to the various people who were there, any potential witnesses, looking at the systems of work that were in place, the training, the supervision, the state of the equipment that was being used,” he said.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-20/man-crushed-at-construction-site/4081016

In a separate incident a workers leg was crushed between 2 trucks.  Luckily the worker is alive and his condition is stable according to Abc.net.au:

A man whose leg was crushed between two trucks in a workplace accident is in a stable condition in the Launceston General Hospital.

Police say the man’s leg was badly injured at a Western Junction business about 9:00am.

Workplace Standards officers are investigating

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-21/man-crushed-between-trucks/4083802

When vehicle and foot traffic converge in the confined space of a construction site, coordination and great care is needed to avoid incidents like the two mentioned above. The management of traffic is vital to provide a safe construction worksite. Potential traffic hazards include delivery trucks, forklifts, excavators and pedestrians. 

The cause of injuries and fatalities on construction sites are often vehicles moving in and around workplaces, reversing, loading and unloading.  The safest way to protect pedestrians is to eliminate the hazard and this should be the first priority of employers, however it is obvious that most construction sites require machinery combined with workers who are pedestrians, so management of the risk is required. This could be achieved by designing the layout of the workplace to eliminate the interaction of pedestrians and vehicles as much as possible.

Careful planning and controlling vehicle operations and pedestrian movements on the construction site can minimise incidents. This includes loading and unloading activities.

The main issues to consider for managing traffic at a construction worksite include:

  • traffic signs
  • developing a traffic management plan.
  • keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart
  • minimising vehicle movements
  • the risks of vehicles reversing
  • visibility of vehicles and pedestrians

Keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart is an important step in reducing incidents on construction sites. Some of the ways employers and worksite designers can do this is by:

  • Providing separate, clearly demarcated traffic routes for pedestrians and vehicles.  Each party must be aware and trained on where they are allowed to be and areas they shouldn’t enter into.
  • Provide pedestrian barricades or traffic control barricades to secure the areas where vehicles and powered mobile plant are being used. Keep areas where heavy plant and trucks are in operation cordoned off from other workers.
  • Provide separate clearly marked pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible and does not cross paths with machinery or vehicles.
  • Where walkways cross roadways, provide a clearly signed and lit crossing point where drivers and pedestrians can clearly see each other.
  • When exiting the site, ensure drivers driving out onto public roads can see both ways along the footway before they move on to it.
  • Do not block walkways so that pedestrians have to step onto the vehicle route risking being knocked by a vehicle.
  • Create ‘no go’ zones for powered mobile plant and vehicles (e.g. pedestrian-only areas around tearooms, amenities and entrances)
  • Designate specific parking areas for workers’ and visitors’ vehicles outside the construction zone’ to prevent them from crashing into pedestrians on site.

Reversing of vehicles on construction sites is also a dangerous activity which needs to be managed. The need for vehicles to reverse should be avoided where possible as reversing is a major cause of fatal accidents.  One-way systems can reduce the risk especially in storage areas. A turning circle could be installed so that vehicles can turn without reversing and drivers can see where they are going clearly. 

 

In very confined sites this might not be possible and reversing is necessary, in this case reversing sensors, reversing cameras and mirrors and warning devices such as reversing alarms must be used. Most construction vehicles are fitted with these nowadays.

Have a worker direct the driver while they are reversing and ensure the driver maintains visual contact with the person directing them. These signallers should wear high visibility clothing so they are not hit by the vehicle.

Other tips include clearly marking reverse areas and ensure operational plant movements are alerted to workers including swing radius, articulation points and overhead load movement.

Ordinary workers not involved in work with the vehicles must still be trained on safety in the presence of these vehicles. Signs must be present and workers must comply with the warning signs. Workers need to be alert because their safety is more often than not in their own hands.

 

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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