Five key factors to help prevent injuries from mobile equipment

Learn these five factors and consider them in your workplace to reduce the risk of incidents involving mobile equipment. 

Photo of warehouse worker pulling hand pallet truck at warehouse storage facility.

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Workers being struck by vehicles and mobile equipment (also known as “struck-by incidents”) are one of the most common serious injury claims in B.C. (You can see WorkSafeBC serious injury claims by incident type in WorkSafeBC Statistics 2020.)

The risk of being struck exists across industries.

For example, WorkSafeBC lists recent incidents such as the following. On a construction site, a worker was struck by a dump truck and lost his life. An agricultural worker was seriously injured when struck by a forklift while putting a fowl into a cage. During routine highway maintenance, a worker was struck and run over by a reversing crew cab pickup truck.

Five factors that may influence risk

When it comes to preventing struck-by incidents, five key factors play a role, says Heather Kahle in an editorial of the Summer 2021 edition of Tradetalk (page 27) by BC Building Trades. Heather is a human factors specialist with WorkSafeBC’s Risk Analysis Unit. She notes that proximity is an important factor. The risk of incident increases when workers perform tasks close to mobile equipment.

“Prevention begins with understanding these factors and how they interact and influence the risk of an incident,” writes Heather. She emphasizes that preventing incidents is a shared responsibility. “Employers, workers, and your joint health and safety committee working together can reduce the potential for these incidents.”

WorkSafeBC’s information sheet Reducing the risk of workers being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment identifies the five factors, and lists things you should consider in your workplace. Below are the factors and some examples from the resource:

  1. Planning and proximity: What is the proximity of work or workers to vehicles?
  2. Equipment: What is the condition and suitability of the vehicle?
  3. Task: What are the goals or objectives of the task?
  4. Environment: Is there other traffic or a pedestrian path that could increase the risk?
  5. People: Is there anything that could impact workers’ focus of attention?

In the past, I spoke with Heather about referencing the hierarchy of controls and using broadband alarms to alert people that a nearby vehicle is reversing. You can read about it in my post Taking a broader view to prevent reversing vehicle incidents.

Regulation changes for mobile equipment

As of April this year, Part 16 (Mobile Equipment) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation is completely revised. The changes improve safety for those who operate and work around mobile equipment, and improve clarity about what’s required (for everyone). You can read an overview of the changes in this primer on mobile equipment.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to think about this important issue.

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