Did you know that highway motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among oilfield workers? It’s true. Of those oil and gas extraction workers who are killed on the job, approximately 40% are killed in a fatal highway incident, according to OSHA.
This is in part because well sites are usually located in remote areas. Workers and equipment must be transported to the site, often traveling long distances to get there. For one thing, the more time people spend on the road, the more likely they are to get into a crash. There are also conditions on the sites that can be especially hazardous.
There are ways for employers to reduce the risk. For example, many workers are injured or killed in backover accidents. These incidents happen relatively frequently despite those loud backup alarms we’re all familiar with.
Common reasons for backover accidents
- The driver missed a worker who was in their blind spot
- Backup alarm was not functioning
- Other worksite noises drowned out the backup alarm
- A spotter helping with one truck may not see another nearby
- Workers fall off vehicles and get backed over
- The driver assumed the area was clear and didn’t look in the direction of travel
- A combination of factors
What can be done to prevent backover accidents
There are a variety of solutions that can help prevent backover accidents by oilfield vehicles. For example, simply training workers on where the vehicle’s blind spots are can help prevent some backover accidents. Every worker should sit in the driver’s seat of a construction vehicle to get a sense of where those blind spots are and how to avoid getting caught in one.
- Spotters can be assigned in every case to help the vehicle to back up without hurting anyone.
- An electronic tagging system can be set up to inform the driver when other people are behind the vehicle.
- In-vehicle displays can help drivers see what is behind them.
- Proximity detection devices such as sonar and radar can let driver’s know when they’re about to hit something or someone.
- Employers can create internal traffic control plans to minimize the need to back up and to keep drivers in specific areas separate from workers on foot.
You have the right to reasonably safe working conditions
If you have been injured in a backup accident or another workplace motor vehicle crash, you have rights. Discuss your situation with an attorney who is experienced in oil and gas accidents.