My State:
July 19, 2012
Watch out for that bulldozer! How to keep pedestrians safe around moving equipment

At a Glendale worksite, a carpenter was struck and killed by a front-end loader when he walked through the area where the loader was operating to retrieve work materials from storage and was in the loader's blind spot. Cal/OSHA cited the employer for a violation of Construction Safety Orders (CSO) Section 1592 for failing to control its earthmoving equipment in a way that protected workers on foot. It was assessed an $18,000 fine.

The site control requirement

CSO Section 1592(e) requires that:

Hauling or earthmoving operations shall be controlled in such a manner as to ensure that equipment or vehicle operators know of the presence of rootpickers, spotters, lab technicians, surveyors, or other workers on foot in the areas of their operations.

Employers have argued that the standard is too vague, but the Cal/OSH Appeals Board has repeatedly rejected this defense.

Practice Tip

Blind-area diagrams for some types of construction and mining equipment are available on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website.

What's not sufficient

The board has ruled that some methods of controlling operations are, by themselves, insufficient to comply with Section 1592's site control requirement. These insufficient methods include:

  • Informing equipment operators that workers will be in the area, so they should watch out for pedestrians

  • Requiring workers on foot to inform equipment operators of their presence

  • Telling workers to make eyecontact with equipment operators when they enter vehicle work areas

Elements of a control plan

The requirement to control hauling or earthmoving operations to protect employees on foot is a performance standard. The performance requirement is that the equipment or vehicle operator must have some way to know workers are present on foot within the area of operation. How to achieve this result is left to the employer's discretion, but clearly, the methods some employers find convenient are not acceptable to DOSH or to the Appeals Board.

Here are some strategies for how employers can comply with the requirement and ensure the safety of pedestrians at worksites where heavy equipment operates:

Keep them separated. Whenever possible, establish walkways for pedestrians that are separate from equipment operation areas. Mark "no-vehicle areas" clearly.

Keep an eye on the situation. A "spotter" is a worker who constantly observes the danger zone and at all times stays in visual or radio contact with equipment operators. Using spotters can help to prevent contact between equipment and workers.

Adjust the plan when necessary. In the Glendale incident, an area originally used by front-end loader operators for turning around was placed into active construction, forcing the loader operator to back up a considerable distance before he could turn around again. His path took him past two material-storage areas, forcing workers to cross his path to retrieve needed work materials. The employer's foreman noticed this problem but did not correct it.

Make pedestrians visible. Make workers more visible to drivers by providing them with high-visibility vests or clothing.

Improve operators' field of vision. Make sure operators know how to properly adjust and use their mirrors to maximize their field of vision.

Use the blind-area diagrams that are available for many vehicles to identify obstructions, such as mufflers and engine cowlings, that block operators' vision, and ensure that workers know where their blind spots are. Whenever practical, redesign or retrofit equipment to eliminate these obstructions.

Train pedestrians. Workers on foot should know to never cross in front of or behind a piece of moving equipment or walk between a piece of equipment and a stationary object. They should make eye contact with equipment operators when they are in the area (even though this, by itself, is not an effective control strategy).

A pedestrian should also know to always yield the right-of-way to a piece of equipment and allow sufficient stopping distance for these large vehicles. In addition, pedestrians should be familiar with the blind spots of the equipment they work around so they can avoid them.

Featured Special Report:
2018 EHS Salary Guide
Copyright © 2018 Business & Legal Resources. All rights reserved. 800-727-5257
This document was published on
Document URL: