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Toolbox Talk: Safely Backing Up Equipment & Vehicles

By December 11, 2023 January 11th, 2024 No Comments

The safe operation of trucks and mobile equipment is critical to the success of any accident prevention effort. Operators must be thoroughly familiar with their assigned machines, and trained in safe operating procedures.

Every year, workers are killed and injured by backing vehicles and machinery. The main problem is blind spots around heavy equipment. If you’re in a blind spot and the operator doesn’t know you’re there, you could be struck by heavy equipment. The hazards increase in congested areas where vehicles and heavy equipment are reversing frequently. Noise distracts people and dust makes it difficult to see and be seen.

Identify controls such as the following:

  • Always make eye contact with the operator before approaching vehicles and equipment
  • Wave your hand to get their attention and wait for a wave back to ensure the operator has seen you
  • You can plan a drive-through site to limit the need for backing up
  • On most projects, trucks and equipment have to operate in reverse at some point, necessitating a spotter/signaler
  • The spotter/signaler is another pair of eyes for the driver

If you’re asked to work as a signaler, use traffic control hand signals and follow these tips:

  • Wear high-visibility clothing as required
  • Stand where the operator can see you at all times, out of the vehicle’s path, and where you have a full view of the intended path of travel
  • Make eye contact with the driver or operator before you signal or change position
  • Do not perform any other duties; signaling requires your full concentration
  • Know driver and operator blind spots

Some Critical Questions to Ask Yourself  for Backing Up Safely:

  • Am I as careful with my company vehicle as I am my personal vehicle?
  • Do I regularly inspect my backup alarms, and my backup lights?
  • Does my forklift have a backup alarm? Is it operational?
  • Are my rear windows foggy, or covered with ice or mist?
  • Are bulky crates in the back of my flatbed blocking my rearview vision?
  • If I have a long pipe on my flatbed, does it extend too far beyond the tailgate?
  • Do I have a red flag on any items that extend beyond the tailgate?
  • When backing up my construction site equipment, am I aware of overhead power lines?
  • When backing up, did check to see if I have a rolling compressor unit affixed to my tow bar?

Backing up is twice as hazardous as going forward, so give it extra attention. You’ll avoid property damage, personal damage, and potential embarrassment.

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