Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Hispanic Laborer Run Over and Killed by Backing Dump Truck in Roadway Construction Zone
The victim, a 42-year-old Hispanic male concrete finisher, was killed when backed over by a dump truck in a roadway work zone. The victim’s employer was contracted to remove old asphalt and concrete from a closed portion of a four-lane highway. The victim and several other employees met in front of the dump truck with a supervisor to discuss their specific job assignments. After receiving their instructions, the victim walked alongside the backing dump truck for a few feet, then moved into the path directly behind it. As the victim was walking away from the truck it struck him, knocking him over and rolling over him. The driver felt a “thump” and immediately stopped the truck. Another employee yelled for the supervisor to call 911. Emergency personnel responded and the victim was declared dead at the scene.
The Nebraska Workforce Development, Department of Labor’s Investigator
concluded that to help prevent future similar occurrences, employers should:
The goal of the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) workplace investigation is to prevent future work-related deaths or injuries, by a study of the working environment, the worker, the task the worker was performing, the tools the worker was using, and the role of management in controlling how these factors interact.
This report is generated and distributed solely for the purpose of providing current, relevant education to employers, their employees and the community on methods to prevent occupational fatalities and injuries.
On December 21, 2004, at approximately 4:45 p.m., a 42-year-old Hispanic concrete laborer died after he was struck and backed over by a dump truck in a roadway construction zone. The Nebraska Department of Labor received notice of the fatality the next day through local news media coverage. The Nebraska FACE investigator met with the investigating OSHA Compliance Officer (COSHA), company officials and law enforcement investigators on December 29, 2004. Due to late notification and the removal of the incident equipment, a site visit was not conducted.
The victim’s employer is a road construction company, doing both asphalt and concrete interstate and roadway work since 1946. The company averages 350 employees at multiple job sites during the normal construction season. It is company policy that they shut down operations the week before Christmas through New Years, but several employees were kept working to finish up some smaller jobs. There were 8 employees at the site when the incident occurred.
Since the company was founded in 1946 it has experienced one other fatality, approximately 25 years ago.
Victim: The victim was a 42-year-old male. He had been employed by this company for 11 years, most recently as a concrete finisher. He often translated safety-related training for other employees. He was wearing an orange hooded sweatshirt, with dark blue coveralls. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a ski mask that was rolled up over his ears, with another stocking hat over the ski mask, with the sweatshirt hood over both. Witnesses stated that the hood was “drawn up” to keep the wind out.
Truck Operator: He has been driving large trucks for over 30 years and been employed by the company for 7 years. He has both a valid state and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Worker 1: (Foreman) He has been employed by the incident company for 44 years.
Worker 2: (Assistant project manager) He has been employed by the incident company for 3 years.
Worker 3: (Laborer) (Hispanic) He has been employed for the incident company for 3 years.
Worker 4: (Laborer) (Hispanic) He has been employed for the incident company for 3 years.
Worker 5: (Laborer) (Hispanic) He has been employed for the incident company for 5 years.
Worker 6: (Laborer) (Hispanic) He has been employed for the incident company for 5 years.
The company has a company-specific written safety program that covers all of the OSHA required programs, including general requirements for the wear of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Each employee is given a copy upon initial employment. Weekly “tail gate talks” are conducted covering a variety of applicable subjects. Safety training literature is also given out along with pay checks and the employees are required to sign before receiving their check. All training sessions are documented. Written and oral training is translated by company personnel when necessary. The company does employ a full-time Safety professional.
In accordance with Nebraska law the company established a Safety Committee that was active until recently. All required program elements are in place. This program needs to be reactivated and all meetings, etc. be documented.
The truck involved in the incident was a 1993 Ford dump truck. It is equipped with reverse lights and an audible reverse alarm. All safety equipment was checked the morning of the incident by the operator and was working. After the incident, State Department of Transportation law enforcement personnel again checked all safety functions and found them to be operable.
The job site was a four-lane rural highway running basically north and south. The lanes are separated by a wide grassy median. The company had been working this particular stretch of highway for three weeks. It was approximately 20 degrees Fahrenheit with a 15-20 mph north wind. The two northbound lanes had been completely closed off from normal traffic during all phases of construction, which included the removal of old asphalt and concrete. Only construction vehicles and employees were allowed access to this stretch of roadway. Most of the crew had been on site for approximately 4 hours. The victim and another employee had been working since early that morning at another job site several miles from the incident site. They both arrived at the incident site at 4:15 p.m., approximately 30 minutes prior to the accident to assist in removal of small piles of asphalt and concrete debris alongside the roadway.
At approximately 4:45 p.m. the victim and all of the workers all met in front of the dump truck to get their instructions from Worker #1, the job foreman. The dump truck was idling in PARK, facing south. They were told that there were two piles of debris north of their location, behind the dump truck. They were told to leave the first pile and start up with the second, larger pile by shoveling and manually placing the concrete materials in a skid steer bucket, which would load it into the dump truck. After that they were quitting for the day.
Worker #5 got into the passenger side of the dump truck to warm up, while the victim made a comment to the truck operator that he was cold also, and started to walk north along the driver’s side of the truck. Worker #4 went to a nearby front end loader that was already full of concrete debris, and drove it towards the dump truck. As he approached, the victim stopped to allow Worker #4 to dump his load, then continued to walk north as the front end loader backed away and went north towards the next pile. Worker #5 (in truck cab) stated he saw the truck operator look in both mirrors, then start to back up at idle speed, looking out the driver’s side mirror. The victim continued to walk alongside the backing truck for several feet. According to Worker #4, he saw the victim walking alongside the backing truck with his hands in his pockets for approximately 35 feet, then move directly behind the truck, still facing away from it. He said that the truck continued to back slowly for approximately 65 more feet until it struck the victim. The victim attempted to turn towards the truck but it knocked him down under the rear axle. The truck had backed approximately 100 feet when the operator felt a “thump” and immediately stopped the vehicle. Worker #1 was in his vehicle approximately 100 feet from the dump truck. He saw the dump truck stop approximately 25 feet short of the pile, then noticed something underneath the rear axle. He immediately called Worker #2 who was 500 foot north of the dump truck in his vehicle to get there immediately. Worker #1 called 911 and local medical and law enforcement personnel responded. The victim was declared dead at the scene.
Cause of Death
According to the death certificate, the cause of death was: Extreme head injuries due to truck-pedestrian accident.
Recommendation #1: Establish a system to ensure the area behind and adjacent to vehicles and equipment is clear to safely operate.
Discussion: No employer shall use any motor vehicle equipment having
an obstructed view to the rear unless the vehicle has a reverse signal
alarm audible above the surrounding noise level, or the vehicle is backed
up only when an observer signals that it is safe to do so.
1Workers in highway work zones are exposed to risk of injury from the movement of construction vehicles and equipment within the work zones, as well as from passing motor vehicle traffic. Data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) indicate that of the 841 work-related fatalities in the U.S. highway construction industry between 1992 and 1998, 465 (55%) were vehicle or equipment-related incidents that occurred in a work zone. 2The primary injury source for fatalities of workers on foot struck by a construction vehicle within the work zone were trucks (61%).
Separate workers on foot from equipment as much as possible by:
Whenever practical, equipment, worker’s private vehicles, materials, and debris should be stored in such a manner so it will not impede a vehicle operator’s line-of-sight while operating construction equipment.
Site diagram (not to scale).
To contact Nebraska State FACE program personnel regarding State-based FACE reports, please use information listed on the Contact Sheet on the NIOSH FACE web site Please contact In-house FACE program personnel regarding In-house FACE reports and to gain assistance when State-FACE program personnel cannot be reached.