Safety and OSHA News

Worker run over, crushed to death by bulldozer

Employees who work around heavy equipment must always be aware of their surroundings. Anything less, as this story shows, can be fatal.

A bulldozer driver watched helplessly as a co-worker was run over by another bulldozer.

The incident in Albion, IN, happened at a construction site after dark, but the property was well lit by light towers.

Police say the victim, a 46-year-old man, had been talking to a bulldozer driver and didn’t notice a second bulldozer backing up.

After finishing his conversation, the victim stepped in front of the second bulldozer. The driver he’d been talking to tried unsuccessfully to get the attention of the other bulldozer.

The man died at the scene.

Investigations into the incident aren’t complete. Key questions: Why didn’t the victim realize he was walking in front of a moving bulldozer, and why didn’t the equipment driver know a co-worker had stepped in front of the bulldozer?

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  • mary

    Dont all large machines have some sort of warning “sound” that warns people that they are backing up?

  • Dan

    I think that this would not have happened if they had put vid cams on thier blind spots like delivery vans and other busses etc. Large dozers have almoast no forward vision, as thier blades are generally larger than the front of the dozer. It is like driving with a wall in front of you. We put back up cams and alarms on RV’s, SUV’sand cars, why not on the front of bulldozers? I think it should be standard equipment on most heavy machines.

  • Aïda

    To mary: Bulldozers have a warning beeper sound off while they are backing up, but in general, the noise at a construction site is very loud, and it is hard to hear the beeping sound.

    It would be safer if companies only allowed their bulldozers to back up for short amounts of time, and to require them to turn around and face forward most of the time.

  • Mel

    It’s easy to put the blame on the machine, sfatey devices like back up alarms and cameras are only help if they are used properly, (Let’s don’t forget how many high tech safety devices cars have nowadays, but we still have accidents). However, the operator may not be the one to blame either. If I learned something in my twenty plus years on field work includding construction and mining; being alert at all times on your work environment is what keeps you safe. Being too confident at the job site can lead to a really bad day at work.

    There are five basic rules that always keept me out of trouble:

    What are you doing.
    How are you going to do it
    When you need to do it
    Where are you doing it
    Why you need to do it safe.

  • http://bpnet Slip

    Accidents will, of course, happen. Our responsibility, however, is not only to look for ways to “announce” hazards that exist, but to stay vigilant in answering the question “what more can I do to keep my coworkers safe?”
    Accidents are accidents whether or not they are initiated by myself or somebody else.

  • http://yahoo tim

    if you cant see a bull dozer then you must be blind

  • Aïda

    But tim: If you aren’t facing in the direction of the bulldozer, then you can’t just see it. And as I said earlier, I’ve read about incidents where the noise was so loud and constant at a construction site, that you can’t distinguish the warning beep indicating the bull dozer is backing up.

    Bulldozer operators, along with fork lift operators, etc., need to have a better visual of what’s behind them if they are backing up. Larger mirrors, a video cam of what’s behind them, or whatever it takes, would help prevent these incidents.

  • http://www.safetynewsalert.com gary

    Back up camera dont work very well on dozers. They generally work in the dirt and the lens becomes very dirty, very fast!!!

  • Ross

    Notice the age of the victim;he was probably a supervisor,which means he was probably in a hurry to go to another task at hand. Also if you have been working around heavy equipment a long time the noise and activity usually doesn’t register as readily as it used to, so inattention and hurry cost him his life.

  • http://www.vollersexcavating.com Steve Vollers

    Regular backup alarm technology is very primitive. We have SUV’s with backup systems that change tone to warn the operator of closing obstructions. Part of the problem is the steady beeping every time you back a machine up… on a busy jobsite all you hear are a “concert” of beeps in every direction. We need to develop a system that beeps the same way as before in order to keep the legal requirments met, but when they detect anything say, within 20′, they SCREAM like a smoke alarm in the operator’s cab and at the alarm speaker… Its the change that makes an operator really wake up and take action. Most machine work is forward and back, hundreds of times a day, and you can really look in a mirror only so many times and then you aren’t really looking because it so repetitious.

  • Dan

    Very sad. I agree sometime we become desensitized to the warning alarms. No one mentioned high visibility vests or Osha required training you must have to work among earth moving equipment- do we know if he had either?

  • Rebecca

    I know this issue all too well as I am an HR manager at a civil engineering company. And all of you who have mentioned the inability to hear ANYTHING on a job site are right on point. We have asphalt plants that are littered with all kinds of equipment and the noise becomes second nature. High visibility clothing/vests and work zone safety training are mandatory for all employees, but even then, a six foot tall man standing next to equipment upwards of 10/20 feet isn’t going to be seen. We require our operators to use backup personnel when they are moving. They use batons (similar to air traffic controllers) so that they are visible to everyone. It’s all about awareness of your surroundings.

  • patrick

    Yes, the bulldozer operator should have been watching to the rear as he backed up, but as some of the other respondents pointed out, a very large machine does not provide good vision to the rear, especially in the areas close to the back of the machine. Also true is the noise-pollution problem, where you have multiple machines with back-up alarms going at the same time and people on the ground becoming “back-up alarm-saturated” so they don’t key in when a machine is getting close to them. It is sad that the man on the ground was run over, but he had a key responsibility for his own safety, to maintain hyper-vigilance at all times when he was in that hazardous location.

  • Frank

    Accidents do not just happen, they are caused. Besides having audible back up alarm systems, construction vehicles and ordinary vehicles do have drivers who MUST pay attention no matter in which direction they move. This said, pedestrians must also be aware of the path they take and on a construction site, they must be become aware of and practice “Situational Awareness”.
    One must always be conscious of ones’ surroundings especially in an area as busy as a construction site.

  • justin laughlin

    I live near a couple of industrial sites and I am sick of the constant beeping! The comments I am reading about all the noises blending is great because I want to get rid of the beeping. It sounds like workers become used to the noise and it goes to the back of their mind. I have done some work around loud equipment and it is as easy to get run over by them moving forward (no beeping) as they are moving backwards. I have seen drivers get distracted and look in the opposite direction that they are driving many times. If the vehicle has a sound system, cd or radio ( I have seen this) they are also distracted. However, I found it near impossible to get run over because you can hear the engines and feel the vibrations of the vehicles moving towards you. This guy must have been very tired or very distracted to get run over. Maybe we should consider more break times to bring back focus, in what can be considered to some, dangerous work situations. I still am a strong supporter for getting rid of the beeping, it just adds to the noise and disturbs people living near by. If I can feel the vibrations of these vehicles from a mile away, the beeping is unnecessary. We should teach these employees to feel the vibrations and be able to distinguish the distance they are from the vehicles.