Vehicle and Equipment Blind Spots

Vehicle and Equipment Blind SpotsHeavy trucks & equipment is used on many different kinds of work sites all around the world. This equipment is very effective for the job it was designed to do, but it can also be very hazardous. Proper work planning as well as operating equipment within its designed limits are important basic steps for safe operation.


Struck-by hazards – Heavy equipment is responsible for many injuries and fatalities in the workplace. Ground personnel are far too often struck by equipment when they are in the line of fire.

Property damage – When operators do not see vehicles, materials, objects, tools, buildings, etc. in their area of operation property damage occurs. This costs employers millions of dollars a year in losses.

Collisions – when vehicles and equipment get close the risk of an accidental collision increases exponentially. The closer the riskier. Blind spots, complacency, and congested work areas are the leading causes of jobsite collisions.

Miscommunication – not having a well-defined and well understood plan is by far the most common hazard resulting in accidents. Take the time to walk down the job, route, and directions to get everyone on the same page BEFORE starting.

Best Practices:

  • All vehicles & equipment should be inspected and readied prior to use. Adjust the seats, mirrors, clean windows and check radios as part of the daily inspection process. Any problems found with equipment should be corrected before it is used. Document all defects on the daily inspection log.
  • A defined route and clear visual path for the operator when moving equipment from the point of origin to the work site. Stop look and listen before you take off or make a move. Take that extra second to look to your left, right and rear before moving that equipment or truck.
  • Operators should complete a walk around of their equipment every time before getting back into the cab to be sure no objects, people, or vehicles are in a blind spot. Someone might have just moved an item into the area a few minutes ago.
  • Establish a danger zone, that is; the working area where contact could result in personal injury or damage during operations.
  • Maintain a clear line of site between the operator and workers. Blind spots are common. If you can’t see the operator, they can’t see you. Always try to walk on the driver side of equipment as the passenger side has a larger blind spot.
  • Workers should keep a safe distance from all sides of the heavy equipment while it is in use. Be aware of the swing radius on certain equipment and, if possible, cordon off the area with barriers or caution tape.
  • Work areas should be properly delineated and enough space given to heavy equipment to operate properly. Clear out all unnecessary personnel, objects, and vehicles from where the equipment is operating. Keep light trucks back from the active work scene.
  • Operators should complete a walk around of their equipment every time before getting back into the cab to be sure no objects, people, or vehicles are in a blind spot.
  • Pull over to the side out of the way if you get confused, need directions or have to make or take a phone call. Loss of attention while you get things sorted puts you and others at risk as they maneuver around you.

20 Feet or 2 Eyes:

Fiore & Sons practice calls for us to keep 20 feet between all heavy equipment and trucks while on site or use 2 eyes of a spotter to help get in close to execute the work. Never drive up under the blind spot and turning radius of a pieces of heavy equipment like a scraper, excavator or crane. Use the “20 feet or 2 eyes” rule every day.

Speak up when others are in your blind spot; Listen up to avoid an injury or accident.

Download PDF to view Common Equipment & Truck Blind Spot Diagrams

Injury Fall from Trench Box Ladder

Injury Fall from Trench Box LadderDESCRIPTION

While installing mainline piping for residential development in Castle Pines, CO an employee fell onto bedding while descending a ladder into a trench box. The ladder was extended above the box 8 feet and not secured at the bottom; being only hooked over the trench box ladder hook on the left side facing the run. As he mounted the ladder on the trench side it pivoted, he lost his balance and fell into the trench. Fortunately, the injured person was not seriously hurt being able to complete the day’s work afterward.

Overnight he was sore requesting and received medical treatment the following day, given two doses of prescription pain medication by the physician. Due to an oversight, he was not D&A tested although per policy he was required to do so. The Foreman and Laborer were both given disciplinary warnings. The laborer stated he had a close call earlier with the ladder pivoting due to not being secured, but failed to act on it. This is an OSHA Recordable Injury Incident.


Procedure or Practice not Fully Developed: During the investigation it was determined that a Safe Work Practice (SWP) did not exist for the routine task of assembling and using the trench box and access. A SWP is needed so all persons understand what is expected of them to work safely.

Incomplete Training/Communication: Failure to Utilize STOP Work, See Something Say Something (SSSS) or Speak-Up Listen-Up (SULU) practices by the craftsman and his co-worker present to secure the ladder after having a close call earlier in the day. Trench ladder use is considered routine and was not addressed in the Daily Toolbox. Toolbox talks are to capture routine tasks as well as new ones.

>Look into alternate ladder attachments, ladder types, and available equipment for double stack trench box applications.Incomplete or Inadequate Inspection: The Trench and Excavation Inspection form was competed but not thoroughly. The section addressing on safe access was not adequately looked at for ladder securement, and a clear access transition onto/off of ladder adjacent to the trench box.


> Prepare a (1) Safety Alert and (2) Safe Work Practice to share with work crews via Tailgate Topics and onsite Awareness. Discuss implementing SWP at next Foreman’s Meeting. Require all ladders to be secured with a safe access landing.

> The fall was significant and should have resulted in immediate notification to supervision and the employee being evaluated by a doctor. The D&A policy requires testing when employees are seen by doctor. Review policy with employees, Foreman and Supts.

> Update the FSI Trench & Excavation Form to add detail to the access and trench box set up portion. Have ready for next Foreman’s Meeting.

> Supervisors and HSE staff to document review of T&E Inspection form and all ladder usage as part of the Routine Safety Site Safety Inspection.

> Look into alternate ladder attachments, ladder types, and available equipment for double stack trench box applications.

Tips for Clear Communication with Two Way Radios

Radios are placed in company vehicles and equipment as a means of efficient & safe communications. They are not toys, a place for standup comedy routine or to discuss your weekend plans.

Think before you speak.

  • Decide what you are going say and to whom it is meant for.
  • Make your conversations as concise, precise, and clear as possible.
  • Avoid long and complicated sentences. Use brief messages.
  • Your voice should be clear. Speak a little slower than normal. Speak in a normal tone.
  • Do not use abbreviations or slang unless they are well understood by your group

Be Prepared: When you have the talk button pressed, no one else in your group can speak or be heard. Two way radios are a one-at-a-time system unlike telephones where you can interrupt and talk over each other. Think about your message beforehand. Think before you speak is always good advice.

Identify Yourself and Who the Message is for: Onsite all share the same radio channel. Use good manners to identify yourself immediately when you start transmitting. Get the attention of the person you want before relaying your message. “OVER” is used to let the other person know you’ve finished speaking.

Examples: “Corn Dog, this is Trash, OVER, dump the cut near me” or “Jake this is Sparky OVER, can you join me here at the pit?

Be patient: The other person may not be able to respond immediately; give them time to reply before re-sending your call.

Use short, clear and concise messages: As two way radios only allow one person to speak at a time, it’s best to keep your transmissions short, clear and to the point. This gives other users an opportunity to acknowledge your message or request further clarification before you carry on with your next point.

Radio users often repeat a message utilizing three way communication to make it clear that they’ve heard and understood the information.

Three-Way Comms: Sender says his message, receiver repeats it back, sender agrees or provides more detail. Always keep messages short.

Pause before speaking: When you first press the push to talk (PTT) button, there can be a short delay before your radio transmits. This could result in your first couple of words being cut off, so wait a second or two before speaking to be sure your listeners receive your whole message.

Learn the lingo: It helps two way radio communication when everyone understands and uses similar language and etiquette, especially when there are more than two people using the channel.

  • Over – I’ve finished speaking
  • Say Again – Repeat your last message
  • Stand-by – I got it, but can’t talk right now
  • Go ahead – I can respond, go ahead with your message
  • Roger – message received and understood
  • Affirmative / Negative – Yes / No
  • Out – Conversation is finished

The phonetic alphabet: It’s often necessary to clarify an important part of your message by spelling it out. Following is a list showing the phonetics used for the alphabet:


Use your radio professionally. If not, your handset will be removed and you will have to follow instead of lead.

Safe Work Practice – Manhole and Grate Opening

Fiore and Sons Inc. as a utility and earth moving contractor has a risk for injury when opening manholes and storm sewer grates. Although a routine task, improperly opening manholes can result in an injury.

Removing Manhole lid

Due Diligence

Before opening a manhole or grate carry out the following:

  • Obtain authorization to open the manhole. Some installations require a permit from the owner before proceeding.
  • Secure the area with cones or barricades as necessary to protect the public.
  • Have correct and adequate tools for the job on hand. Shovel, block, manhole hook, large screwdriver, sledgehammer may all be needed depending on the type of lid.
  • Obtain 811 locates if the job will require excavating near or beside a manhole or grating.
  • Be prepared to perform air monitoring and testing with a calibrated device.
  • Hold a Safety Huddle Toolbox to discuss the details of the operation.
  • Ensure the crew is trained in the Safe Work Practice for opening gratings and manholes.

Safe Work Practice

Below is a pictorial representation of the appropriate way to open a manhole. Many manholes differ in design and may require more thought and preparation to have the correct tools and plan in place before starting. Do not underestimate the danger and risk of the task.

Many manholes differ in design

Removing Manhole lid or grating:

  • Have a co-worker watch for traffic. Strike the lid with a hammer if necessary to loosen it.
  • Clean out the pick pocket and firmly insert the hook into the lid opening.
  • Come to the far side of the manhole before picking. Stand on the opposite side of the hook.
  • With your back straight and your knees slightly bent use the hook as a lever to pop open the lid.
  • Firmly plant your feet and with your back straight use your legs to push down on the hook and pry up the lid.
  • To readjust the hook pry point, insert a block between the lid and rim. Do not place fingers or feet under lid.
  • Pull the lid toward yourself using care not to place your fingers or feet under the lid.
  • Drag the lid toward yourself and onto the ground. Be able to see the opening the whole time you are pulling the lid.
  • Prop the lid on a block so it’s easier to reinsert the hook later to replace the lid.

Replacing the Manhole lid or grating:

  • Clean the rim edge to remove debris that keeps the lid from seating properly. Do not lean over the opening.
  • Move to the opposite side of the lid and place the hook underneath it.
  • Do not place your fingers under the lid or use your foot as a block to set the hook.
  • Remove the block and any nearby tools so they do not end up in the bottom of the manhole.
  • Plant your feet and with a straight back use your legs to slide the lid back over the opening.
  • Do not rush and do not pull with your back to lift the lid back in place.
  • On the opposite side of the lid use your foot or shovel to push the lid back in. Keep the lid between you and the opening.