Backover incidents and how to prevent them

One of the more common types of construction accidents in Missouri are backover incidents, where workers are struck by vehicles in reverse. According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatality rates due to backover incidents have been steady from 2012 to 2015, with an average over 60 fatalities per year. The numbers are still high, yet OSHA has been unable to address the problem due to certain constraints.

For example, the July 2016 agenda from the Department of Labor stated that OSHA's "Preventing Backover Injuries and Fatalities Standard" regulatory action was turned down by the Trump administration. Current standards are limited because of OSHA's stated desire to not put undue burdens on interstate commerce.

Vehicles with an obstructed view of the rear are required by OSHA to have an audible back-up alarm. If no back-up alarm can be found that rises above the surrounding noise level, the driver must not back up without an observer's go-ahead. Alarms are not required on forklifts and lift trucks, but if they are already present, they must not be removed. Until specific regulations are passed, employers should appoint a spotter to look out for pedestrians since drivers can all too easily tune out the alarms. Internal traffic control plans and rearview cameras are also recommended.

People who are injured in this type of workplace accident are generally entitled to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. In cases where the employer was grossly negligent in its commitment to workplace safety, it might be possible to instead file a lawsuit against the company. An attorney could research the situation to see if that would be an available route.

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