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Heavy equipment safety can reduce construction site accidents

The significant technical advances in modern heavy equipment has made the construction industry significantly more efficient. Bulldozers, backhoes, road graders and similar heavy equipment devices are workforce multipliers. These vehicles often allow one employee to do the work of dozens with minimal effort.

Unfortunately, these machines are also extremely heavy and powerful. They require specific training to prevent operators from harming themselves and others. A recent evaluation of several fatal construction site accidents involving heavy equipment provides some examples of how enhanced workplace safety might have prevented some of those accidents. Here are some of the key findings of that report:

-- Seat belts play a crucial role in keeping heavy equipment operators from being thrown from their vehicles. Many projects involving heavy equipment are conducted on uneven terrain that may be bumpy or sloped at severe angles. Wearing a seat belt while traveling along those surfaces is one easy, yet effective way to reduce the number of catastrophic personal injuries.

-- Employers should implement policies that require employees to conduct inspections of their equipment prior to each work shift. This is particularly important for vehicles that can become dangerous due to a diminishment of their braking abilities. An employee should be able to tag any vehicle as unserviceable that is incapable of stopping while fully loaded.

-- Employers should ensure that the people designated to repair their heavy equipment have the proper training and licensing to perform those tasks. There are crucial areas such as a vehicle's brakes that could potentially create work hazards if not properly maintained.

Of course, this is not a thorough listing of all the things that employers should do to reduce the chances of construction site injuries and fatalities. However, the implementation of sound workplace safety policies can go a long way towards keeping employees safe.

There are a few things you should know if you are a Maryland construction worker who has been injured on the job. You may be entitled to medical benefits and wage replacement payments through your employer's workers' compensation plan. Additionally, you may be entitled to seek recovery from third parties who may have contributed to your accident. A Maryland personal injury attorney can review the details of your case and help you determine which course of action is best for your situation.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, "MIFACE Investigation Report #10MI038 Subject: Heavy Equipment Operator Killed When Ejected From Cab," accessed June 25, 2015

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