Brad Pistotnik Law
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The Heavy Risks of Operating Heavy Equipment

The Heavy Risks of Operating Heavy Equipment

What are the risks of operating heavy equipment? How many construction workers are injured or killed in construction accidents involving heavy machinery? Contact with equipment including heavy machinery and motor vehicles is the third leading cause of fatalities on construction sites. These accidents occur for many reasons including diminished field of vision, poor maintenance, improper operation, and inadequate safety training of vehicle operators and others on the construction site. When these accidents occur, liability may fall on the driver, their employer, the vehicle manufacturer, or the owner of the property where the injury or wrongful death occurred.

Dangerous Equipment

Backhoes are a particularly dangerous piece of heavy equipment on the construction site. From 1992 to 2000, 346 construction workers died following accidents involving backhoes. Nationwide, backhoes are involved in approximately 50% of all fatal accidents involving heavy machinery. There are many causes of backhoe accidents. These include poor design that can increase the risk of a rollover accident, improper installation of shields which are designed to prevent entanglements, unsafe operation such as attempting to drive up or down steep grades, and failure to maintain safety features including lights and horns designed to alert construction workers to the presence and/or directional movement of the machine.

Injuries caused by bulldozers are also common. 75% of fatalities caused by bulldozers occur due to vehicle overturns. Many of these occur while the vehicle is loaded or offloaded from the transport trailer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bulldozers are the second most common piece of heavy equipment to cause a fatality on the construction site.

Dump trucks are another dangerous piece of heavy equipment. From 1992 to 2007, 829 construction workers died in accidents involving dump trucks. Of these, 336 were the dump truck operators themselves and 343 involved other construction workers; with 75% of these dying when they were struck by the vehicle. A further 22 were caught in between the frame of the dump truck and the truck's bed.

The Hazards of Forklifts

Forklifts of all sizes are inherently dangerous pieces of equipment. Each year, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) estimates that there are 61,800 non-fatal accidents involving forklifts in the United States. Of these, 34,900 result in serious injury and 85 cause a fatality. 42% of fatal accidents occur when drivers or workers are crushed beneath a forklift as it tips over. A further 25% of fatal accidents involve individuals who are crushed between the vehicle and walls, loading docks, etc. 11 occur when individuals are crushed between vehicles, 10% occur when the individual is run over by the forklift. Of those who die, 23.8% are construction workers. These accidents are preventable and OSHA estimates that up to 70% of fatal accidents involving forklifts could be prevented through effective training and adherence to established safety protocols.

Brad Pistotnik law offers free consultations for construction workers who are injured in construction accidents. We are available to answer your call 24/7 and on all weekends and holidays. Our construction accident attorneys represent clients who suffer personal injuries and the survivors of those who suffer wrongful deaths in construction accidents in Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Call us at 1-800-241-BRAD or on our local line at 316-684-4400. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can call Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237. In Western Kansas you can call 620-THE-BULL.