- Safety and Health Topics
- Preventing Backovers
A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. These incidents can be prevented. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. These kinds of incidents can occur in different ways. For example:
On June 18, 2009, an employee was working inside a work zone wearing his reflective safety vest. A dump truck operating in the work zone backed up and struck the employee with the rear passenger side wheels. The employee was killed. The dump truck had an audible back up alarm and operating lights. (OSHA Inspection Number 313225377).
On June 9, 2010, an employee was standing on the ground in front of a loading dock facing into the building while a tractor trailer was backing into the same dock. The trailer crushed the employee between the trailer and the dock. (OSHA Inspection Number 314460940).
The purpose of this webpage is to provide information about the hazards of backovers; solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents; articles and resources; and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.
How do backover incidents occur?
Backover accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Drivers may not be able to see a worker in their blind spot. Workers may not hear backup alarms because of other worksite noises or because the alarms are not functioning. A spotter assisting one truck may not see another truck behind him. Workers riding on vehicles may fall off and get backed over. Drivers may assume that the area is clear and not look in the direction of travel. Sometimes, it is unclear why a worker was in the path of a backing vehicle. A combination of factors can also lead to backover incidents.
What can be done to prevent backover incidents?
Many solutions exist to prevent backover incidents. Drivers can use a spotter to help them back up their vehicles. Video cameras with in-vehicle display monitors can give drivers a view of what is behind them. Proximity detection devices, such as radar and sonar, can alert drivers to objects that are behind them. Tag-based systems can inform drivers when other employees are behind the vehicle and can alert employees when they walk near a vehicle equipped to communicate with the tag worn by the employee. On some work sites, employers can create internal traffic control plans, which tell the drivers where to drive and can reduce the need to back up. In some cases, internal traffic control plans can also be used to separate employees on foot from operating equipment.
Training is another tool to prevent backover incidents. Blind spots behind and around vehicles are not immediately obvious to employees on foot. By training employees on where those blind spots are and how to avoid being in them, employers can prevent some backover incidents. One component of this training can include putting employees who will be working around vehicles in the driver’s seat to get a feel for where the blind spots are and what, exactly, the drivers can see. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) several blind spot diagrams that can help explain what drivers of various large trucks can see.
Provides OSHA standards related to backing.
OSHA Letters of Interpretation
Provides OSHA Letters of Interpretation and clarifications regarding backing.
Backing Safety Solutions
Provides safety solutions for backing vehicles.
Provides additional resources regarding backing safety.
Vehicles Causing the Most Backover Fatalities 2005-2010+
+OSHA Integrated Management Information System data
- Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths from Backing Construction Vehicles and Equipment at Roadway Construction Worksites (PDF). NIOSH, (June, 2014).
- Stakeholder meeting [Jan. 8-9, 2013, in Washington, D.C. and Feb. 5, 2013, in Arlington, Texas]. OSHA Trade News Release, (December 17, 2012).
- Preventing Backovers. Safety Clearinghouses. Provides links to information relating to backover incidents in highway work zones.
- Motor Vehicle Safety. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
- Prevention Video (v-Tool): Struck-by Accidents in Construction. OSHA Video.
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-Site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-Site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.