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Take 5 for Safety: Preventing backover incidents

By Ashleigh Petersen

January 18, 2023

Signal for backing up a vehicleTake 5 for Safety is a monthly article designed to give equipment and event rental stores the information they need to conduct a five-minute safety meeting on a particular topic. Below are talking points for this month’s meeting. Click here to download the Take 5 for Safety signup sheet. This can be used to take attendance during the meeting. 

How do backover incidents occur? 

Backover accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Drivers may not be able to see a worker in their blind spot. Workers may not hear backup alarms because of other worksite noises or because the alarms are not functioning. A spotter assisting one truck may not see another truck behind him. Workers riding on vehicles may fall off and get backed over. Drivers may assume that the area is clear and not look in the direction of travel. Sometimes, it is unclear why a worker was in the path of a backing vehicle. A combination of factors also can lead to backover incidents. 

What can be done to prevent backover incidents? 

Many solutions exist to prevent backover incidents. Drivers can use a spotter to help them back up their vehicles. Video cameras with in-vehicle display monitors can give drivers a view of what is behind them. Proximity detection devices, such as radar and sonar, can alert drivers to objects that are behind them. 

Using a spotter: 

Spotters are a proven method of protecting employees on foot behind vehicles with an obstructed view, but spotters themselves can be at risk for injury or even death, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): 

The following steps can help keep spotters safe: 

  • Spotters and drivers should agree on hand signals before backing up. 
  • Spotters should always maintain visual contact with the driver while the vehicle is backing. 
  • Drivers must stop backing immediately if they lose sight of the spotter. 
  • Spotters should not have additional duties while they are acting as spotters. Working as a spotter should be their only focus.
  • While acting as a spotter, a person should not use their cellphone, personal headphones or other items which could pose a distraction during spotting activities. 
  • Spotters should wear high-visibility clothing, especially during night operations. 

Below are suggested spotting signals from OSHA:

OSHA suggested spotting signals

Review your company’s backing up safety techniques and requirements.