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On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

For many who work in industries that utilize heavy equipment such as construction and mining, loading and unloading the equipment is a routine part of the job. However, workers run the risk of injury or death when handling heavy equipment. Workers should be aware of how dangerous heavy equipment can be and some ways that they can decrease the likelihood of accidents when working with such machinery.

Accident statistics

According to a report that analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Research File, an average of nine workers per year died in accidents involving loading and unloading heavy machinery from trucks and trailers during 1992-2003. Of the 63 deaths the report looked at, 70 percent happened while workers were loading equipment and the most common piece of equipment involved in the fatalities were bulldozers.

Those who operate heavy equipment were the most likely to be involved in fatal accidents, comprising 35 percent of all the equipment loading fatalities. The most common accident resulting in fatalities was equipment overturning while being driven on or off a trailer, which occurred 75 percent of the time. Another 20 percent of fatal accidents involved workers being struck by equipment and 10 percent of the fatalities resulted from workers being trapped between the equipment and the trailer.

Tips for avoiding accidents

By following some simple tips, workers and employers can reduce the chances that there will be an accident at their work sites, such as:

  • Remaining alert at all times
  • Only allowing qualified personnel to operate the equipment
  • Developing communication signals prior to beginning operation of the equipment
  • Ensuring all those who enter the "danger zone" surrounding the machinery establish eye contact with the operator
  • Barricading the danger zone around the equipment so unauthorized workers and onlookers cannot enter
  • Making sure that trucks and trailers are parked on level ground with the brakes engaged when loading and unloading equipment
  • Providing ramps that are wide enough for equipment and long enough to avoid steep angles when loading and unloading equipment
  • Following a maintenance schedule for the equipment to keep it in good repair

Talk to a lawyer

Despite precautions that workers take, accidents still happen. Other workers can be careless or make mistakes due to lack of training, equipment can fail because it is not properly maintained or a host of other things can go wrong. If you have been involved in an accident at work, speak with an experienced attorney before settling your claim. A lawyer can advise you of your options for recovery after determining the extent of your injuries and the care you will need to recuperate.

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