Construction sites are recognized as one of the most dangerous places to work in the US. At a construction site, workers sometimes use a heavy machine for all sorts of tasks. This machine is called a bulldozer. As per Bureau of Labor (BLS) figures, out of a reported 4,206 construction site related fatalities in 2010, as many as 774 or 18.4 percent were a direct outcome of bulldozer accidents. Typical accidents involving bulldozers included crushing incidents, rollovers, run-over accidents, and getting trapped.Experience is not a Guarantee
A bulldozer is a highly powerful machine that requires the operator to have advanced training and knowledge on how to use and operate this machine. However, even when the operator of a bulldozer is fully trained and experienced, accidents still occur. Since the size of the bulldozer is massive, serious injuries are often fatal or catastrophic. Bulldozer accidents sometimes take place because of the negligence of the individual operating the machine. In other cases, a bulldozer accident may occur due to a faulty machine, defective or substandard parts, or inadequate safety features. When a bulldozer collides or rolls over with another vehicle, it can potentially crush anything that comes in its path. Bystanders are also at the risk of getting injured if the operator fails to notice the person on the ground or loses control of the machine or loses control of the materials the bulldozer may be carrying.Types of Bulldozer Injuries
Some of the typical injuries caused due to bulldozer accidents may include:
- Brain or head injuries
- Broken bones or fractures
- Crush injuries
- Eye injuries, resulting in full or partial vision loss
- Loss of limb
- Neck or spinal injury, which could lead to paralysis
- Oral and facial trauma
A defective bulldozer could cause the heavy machine to malfunction while the equipment is in operation. Sometimes a faulty bulldozer could mean that some vital safety component is missing or something essential that helps the machine move and do work. Common causes of a faulty bulldozer may include:
- Fault in the design or manufacture of the machine
- Lack of proper instructions to operate
- Lack of adequate safety warnings
- Irregular maintenance of all or a few key parts of the bulldozer
A study published by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Research File showed that between 1992 and 2003, loading and unloading of mobile equipment caused an average of nine construction site fatalities per year. Bulldozers were the common construction machine involved in a majority of these types of fatalities. The study further revealed that these fatalities included operators of heavy equipment, construction laborers, truck drivers, and site managers. In as many as three out of four cases, the fatality occurred due to the bulldozer flipping upside down as it was driven on or off a trailer. Most deaths in these cases took place while the loading or unloading was being carried out. The report also said that another fatal cause on the worksite was when someone was struck by the bulldozer or by another machine or getting stuck between the trailer and either materials or the bulldozer.
Watch Youtube Video: Man Dies After Bulldozer Accident at Naples Business. This video shows a news report about a 21-year-old man who was crushed to death at a construction site in Naples.
Negligence may also cause a bulldozer accident. Operators using this machine sometimes fail to ensure that the path is clear before they put the bulldozer in motion, putting others at risk and also other machines and structures. When construction work is taking place near a road, there is plenty that can go wrong. The bulldozer operator has to be alert for nearby passing traffic.Safety Tips
Although there is an inherent risk when working with a bulldozer, workers can take some safety measures to minimize the risk. Operating a bulldozer safely is critical because the machine is very powerful and catastrophic injuries or death is a real possibility if something goes wrong. Some of the vital safety measures that should be taken to protect workers operating or working around a bulldozer could include:
- The bulldozer should only be used by a qualified operator.
- The operator should always wear a seatbelt.
- The operator should follow proper tagout, blockout, and lockout procedures.
- Where barricades and signs cannot control the traffic, flaggers should be assigned.
- The bulldozer must be kept away from water main and overhead power lines.
- Warning devices should be audible throughout the construction site.
- The engine must be shut off while refueling.
- A rollover protection structure should be included on the bulldozer.
- Do not climb where there is no specified foot or handhold.
- Identify potential hazards in advance, such as a structure that is taller than the bulldozer and could collapse over it (or any structure for that matter).
- Put in place appropriate procedures and systems to secure an unattended bulldozer from movement.
- Do not operate a bulldozer that has not undergone a pre-shift inspection for brakes, fluid levels, signals, etc.
- Never carry a passenger on a bulldozer.
- Always park the bulldozer on level ground.
- While loading or unloading equipment, avoid steep angles by ensuring that the trailer ramp is of sufficient size.
Apart from safe equipment handling, safety experts recommend that workers should be trained to help each in order to avoid bulldozer accidents. To stay safe, workers should spot each other while positioning and operating the machine by providing correct directions to the driver, staying alert while materials are loaded or unloaded, and ensure that only proven or trained operators operate the loading and unloading of equipment at any given time.Legal Obligations of California Employers
Training in health and safety is one of the foremost requirements in Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs), which are mandatory in California. Even contractors and temporary workers who carry out work at a job site or a place of work must also be trained before they can take up an assignment. The employer has a choice to use external training providers to create and execute a training program. Industry-specific as well as general “Safety Orders” also sometimes include additional requirements for training. For more information about employer obligations in California, click here.Bulldozer Accident Lawyer