One may assume that moving construction equipment on and off trucks or trailers is common and relatively safe for construction workers. In reality, however, several construction workers are killed each year during accidents while loading and unloading heavy machinery.
On average nine construction workers lose their lives every year due to accidents occurring during the loading or unloading of mobile equipment, according to a data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collected from 1992-2003.
Loading in particular appears to be more risky, with 70 percent of fatalities occurring when workers were engaged in moving machinery onto trucks and trailers. The equipment most commonly involved was bulldozers; and 75 percent of accidents occurred due to equipment overturning. Other accidents involved workers being struck by equipment, or caught in between equipment.
Many types of construction workers experienced fatalities in these accidents including loader and excavator operators, and dozer, scraper and grader operators. Besides equipment operators, there were also fatalities among laborers, truck drivers, and construction managers and supervisors.
To avoid these accidents workers can take several steps. These include parking trailers or trucks on flat, stable ground, making sure that trailer ramps are the correct width and length to avoid sharp angles, and using a spotter to direct the equipment operator. Flatbed truck motors should be off and brakes should be set.
If you are injured during work on a construction site you may be eligible for workers’ compensation or compensation from responsible third parties such as contractors, equipment manufacturers or property owners.
Source: eLCOSH, “Dangers in Loading and Unloading Heavy Equipment,” Michael McCann.
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