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Backing Safety Solutions


Spotters are a proven method of protecting employees on foot behind vehicles with an obstructed view, but spotters themselves can be at risk for injury or even death. Employers can implement the following actions to help keep spotters safe:

  • Ensure that spotters and drivers agree on hand signals before backing up.
  • Instruct spotters to always maintain visual contact with the driver while the vehicle is backing.
  • Instruct drivers to stop backing immediately if they lose sight of the spotter.
  • Not give spotters additional duties while they are acting as spotters.
  • Instruct spotters not to use personal mobile phones, personal headphones, or other items which could pose a distraction during spotting activities.
  • Provide spotters with high-visibility clothing, especially during night operations.


Suggested Spotting Signals
Vehicles Causing the Most Backover Fatalities 2005-2010+
Dump Truck 67
Semi/Tractor Trailer 40
Truck 30
Forklift 21
Garbage Truck 20
Pick-up Truck 16

+OSHA Integrated Management Information System data


Back up - right arm held over head with hand gesture

Back up

Back, turn left - left arm points left, right arm held over head with hand gesture

Back, turn left

Back, turn right - right arm points right, left arm held over head with hand gesture

Back, turn right

Move forward - right arm moves from up position, down to the ground in an arc

Move forward

Distance left to back - arms held over head, width between hands indicates distance

Distance left to back

Slow down - right arm held out at chest level, moves up and down vertically

Slow down

Stop - both arms held horizontally out in front of chest, hands out perpedicularly from ground


Note: The following list of solutions is not required by any OSHA standard. It is provided for informational purposes only.


Most vehicles (and some types of mobile equipment) can accommodate a camera that provides operators with a view to the rear. Some vehicles come equipped with cameras or may be offered with them as optional equipment. Camera systems can also be purchased as after-market equipment for vehicles. Viewing screens may be dash-mounted but must not block the driver's view out the windshield. Harsh environments, such as some construction sites or mines, may require more rugged cameras. Determining where to mount a camera for maximum effectiveness may be difficult, especially on large vehicles. For example, dump trucks may require two or three cameras to monitor the blind spots on the front, rear, and side of the vehicle.

Proximity Detection Systems

Radar and ultrasonic technology both are used in backing safety systems. A radar system transmits a signal, which is bounced off an object. The signal is then received by a receiver. These systems alert the driver with a visual and/or audio warning. These systems must be positioned so that they won't detect harmless objects, such as the concrete slab of a driveway, which can interfere with the detection of an object or person behind the vehicle or mobile equipment. Also, the composition of an object can affect detection, with some materials being virtually invisible to radar. Like cameras, this equipment can be mounted on most vehicles and may be an option from some manufacturers.

Ultrasonic systems, such as sonar, emit bursts of ultrasonic waves in a frequency above the hearing threshold of humans. When the waves strike an object, they generate echoes used to determine the distance to the object. These systems alert the driver with a visual and/or audio warning.

Tag-based Systems

Another type of proximity detection system is an electromagnetic field-based system, which is a type of tag-based system. This system consists of electromagnetic field generators and field detecting devices. One electromagnetic field-based system uses electromagnetic field generators installed on a vehicle and electronic sensing devices (a tag) worn by persons working near the vehicle. Another electromagnetic field-based system uses field generators worn by persons working near the vehicle, with the sensing devices installed on the vehicle. These electromagnetic field-based systems can be programmed to warn affected workers, stop the vehicle, or both, when workers get within the predefined danger zone of the vehicle.

Internal Traffic Control Plans

An internal traffic control plan (ITCP) is another method used to address backover hazards. These are plans that project managers can use to coordinate the flow of moving equipment, workers, and vehicles at a worksite to minimize or eliminate vehicles and employees from crossing paths. These plans can significantly reduce, or possibly eliminate, the need for vehicles to back up on a site.

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