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RUN-OVER/BACK-OVER ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES AT CONSTRUCTION SITES IN NEW YORK
Did you know that being run over or backed over by construction vehicles is one of the major causes of fatalities and injuries for New York City workers in construction zones? Although motor vehicle accidents on highways get the maximum attention, the fact is that construction workers are equally at risk of getting injured or killed by heavy construction equipment and vehicles because of their large blind spots and other factors.
At least one construction worker is killed every month by being backed over by a dump truck, crane, or another construction vehicle. But the fact is that these accidents are entirely preventable. Construction site owners and contractors must ask this important question: Does the construction site follow all the vehicle safety practices?
If safety rules and practices are being ignored, then construction workers face a serious and realistic danger of being fatally struck by dump trucks and cranes, pinned between walls and vehicles, hit by swinging backhoes, or crushed underneath overturned construction vehicles.
Types of Heavy Equipment on Construction Sites
The OSHA has developed extensive regulations to bring down the number of construction workers that are involved in heavy equipment run-over and back over accidents. These regulations require the vehicle operators to be correctly trained in how to handle the heavy vehicles and equipment, apart from what safety steps must be put in place for worker safety at construction sites.
Some of the construction vehicles and heavy equipment that can lead to these types of accidents and injuries in New York City include:
- Dump trucks
- Bobcats and skid steers
- Front end loaders
Causes of Run-Over Accidents in NYC Construction Sites
Construction workers in New York City may be involved in run-over accidents for a number of reasons. The most common causes of these injuries include:
LACK OF TRAINING
Heavy equipment operators at NYC construction sites may not be properly trained to maneuver heavy equipment in a safe manner under certain conditions. Carelessness or poor training can lead to severe injuries and fatalities.
Inadequate communication or poor systems of communication between the vehicle operator and the bystanders at New York construction sites are another major cause of these types of run-over and back over accidents.
A heavy equipment operator in a construction area may have reduced visibility, which will increase the risk of accidents. Blind spots are usually larger in proportion to the size of the vehicle. For instance, a dump truck operator will be seated high above the ground, which is going to limit their visibility. Operators are expected to be aware of all of their blind spots, and have the necessary skill and training to avoid accidents.
A serious risk that construction workers (who operate on foot) face is from a backing construction vehicle. It is the employer’s responsible to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken to enable safe-backing in construction areas:
- The site owner or contractor should arrange the construction site in way that there is a minimal need for backing.
- Designated areas must be created on the job site where backing takes place.
- Clear communication systems must exist to warn workers on foot that a construction vehicle is about to back. Truck drivers should ideally have spotters as well as functional backup alarms in order to forewarn the workers in the vicinity.
How to Avoid Run-Over Hazards?
If the employers enforce all the safety regulations and ensure that proper precautions are taken, run-over accidents on construction sites are entirely preventable. Here are some of the ways to protect workers from run-over accidents:
- Seatbelts designed for construction work should meet OSHA standards, and must always be used.
- Check construction vehicles prior to every shift to ensure that they are in safe working condition.
- Vehicles must be fitted with reverse alarms or other signals when they have to be driven in reverse gear.
- Before dumping or lifting objects or devices, make sure that all other construction workers in the vicinity are in the clear.
- All construction vehicles should have safety devices and proper braking systems.
- Supervisors should never allow vehicles to be operated beyond their rated lift or load capacity.
- If the construction work is taking place around public roadways, make use of barricades, flaggers or traffic signs as necessary.
- All workers on the construction site should wear warning clothing.
Construction site owners, contractors, and workers should be aware that run-over accidents can occur in various ways. In several cases, a construction worker could be run over by another worker that failed to follow safety rules. But these accidents could also occur from external sources. For example, a worker may be installing signage on a highway, and may get hit by a semi-truck that changes lanes and enters the work zone accidentally.
Another example could be where a construction inspector is crossing an equipment vehicle route and walks inattentively into the path of an oncoming end loader. The inspector in this case could get run over and killed. The larger point of these examples is that run-over accidents on construction sites can occur in different ways, and workers should be adequately trained to follow safety practices and protect themselves and others.
Construction Employer’s Duty of Care
If you are struck by a vehicle and injured in a construction zone, your employer could be held liable for damages. Construction employers in New York have a legal obligation to meet certain safety requirements to protect you in construction area. Some of the requirements employers must meet include:
- It is the employer’s duty to conduct a thorough hazard assessment on the site and identify potential construction safety hazards along with the jobsite coordinator.
- If the construction work is going on in close proximity to a highway or public roadway, additional protective measures must be put in place.
- Clear warning signs should be posed in strategic construction areas for points of hazard.
- Legible signage must also be placed along the road.
- Workers in the construction zone should have an operations and safety orientation to go over critical safety issues.
- Appropriate training techniques must be utilized in accordance with OSHA standards so that all the operators are certified and qualified to work in the construction zone.
Seek Help from a Construction Run-Over/Back-Over Injury Attorney in New York
Being struck by a vehicle or heavy equipment in a construction zone is included among the “fatal four” accidents, which are recognized as the most dangerous types of accidents on worksites.
Run-over (which is a type of struck-by accident) accounts for nearly 10 percent of all construction site fatalities. Injured workers and their families in New York City can get burdened with high medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering manifesting from these accidents.
Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP is a prominent and respected New York City construction injury law firm you can count on if you are a victim of a run over or back over accident on a construction site. Call us at (212) 697-9280 to schedule a convenient appointment with one of our attorneys.
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