Problem: Contact with objects and equipment is the third leading cause of death in construction. This study examines heavy equipment- and truck-related deaths in the excavation work industry in construction.
Methods: The Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries identified 253 heavy equipment related deaths on construction sites in the Excavation Work industry for the years 1992-2002.
Results: Heavy equipment operators and construction laborers made up 63% of the heavy equipment- and truck-related deaths. Backhoes and trucks were involved in half the deaths. Rollovers were the main cause of death of heavy equipment operators. For workers on foot and maintenance workers, being struck by heavy equipment or trucks (especially while backing up for workers on foot), and being struck by equipment loads or parts were the major causes of death.
Discussion: Ensuring adequate rollover protective structures for heavy equipment, requiring fastening of seat belts, adoption of a lock-out/tagout standard, establishing restricted access zones around heavy equipment, and requiring spotters for workers who must be near heavy equipment or trucks would reduce the risk of heavy equipment- and truck-related deaths in construction.
Impact on industry: Safety of heavy equipment operators in particular is a major concern in excavation that needs to be addressed.