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Why the danger posed by backover accidents cannot be overstated

Anyone who has spent years working on construction sites, in warehouses or at other industrial settings has more than likely developed a sort of sixth sense when it comes to workplace dangers. For example, veteran warehouse workers may instinctively know when a pallet is too heavy for a team lift by sight alone, while veteran assembly line workers may be able to tell when machinery is not functioning properly by sound alone.

As much as can be said for this sixth sense, the reality is that there will always be certain hidden dangers facing all workers -- regardless of their experience. By way of example, consider backover accidents.

What are backover accidents?   

A backover accident occurs when a vehicle inadvertently strikes a worker who is kneeling, walking or standing in its path as it moves in reverse.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that more than 70 workers were killed in backover accidents in 2011 alone, while the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has identified them as a significant construction site danger.   

What are the primary causes of backover accidents?

Backover accidents can occur for any number of reasons from malfunctioning reverse alarms and high noise levels to spotter inattention and simple operator negligence.

What types of vehicles are typically involved in backover accidents?

According to the U.S. Labor Department, the vehicles responsible for causing the most fatal backover accidents from 2005 to 2010 were dump trucks (67), semi trucks (40), trucks (30), forklifts (21), garbage trucks (20) and pickup trucks (16).

Are there any precautions that can be taken to mitigate the risk of backover accidents?

Some basic steps identified by safety experts as helping mitigate the risk of backover accidents include:

  • Equipping trucks with rear-facing cameras and dashboard monitors, or proximity detection devices
  • Outfitting employees with tag-based systems designed to communicate their real-time location
  • Creating internal traffic plans that minimize the need for vehicles to travel in reverse
  • Providing enhanced training designed to help workers better understand the blind spots on vehicles   

It's imperative for workers who have suffered any sort of debilitating injuries in a backover accident or any other type of workplace mishap to understand that they have viable legal options for securing the necessary compensation.

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