According to news reports last week, a Chicago construction worker was killed when the Bobcat front loader he was in fell seven stories. Such a catastrophic accident highlights another peril of constructions sites: operating heavy machinery. To speak with an experienced Chicago construction accident injury lawyer, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.
A front loader, such as the Bobcat, is a common piece of equipment used on construction sites. Its primary use is to dig, pick up and move materials, such as asphalt, gravel and dirt, from ground level or a pile into a dump truck or rail car. Front loaders are also versatile: though they often have what looks like a large bucket with teeth attached to the front, they can also have two prongs attached to the front it act like a forklift, which can lift larger objects such as pallets or shipping containers. Due to the strength and size of front loaders (they can weigh several thousand pounds), they must be operated carefully to avoid catastrophic accidents from occurring.
Indeed, there are specific rules and regulations for the safe operation of front loaders and other heavy machinery construction equipment. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific guidelines relating to the building, use and care of heavy construction equipment such as front loaders. For example, the Code of Federal Regulations, 29.CFR. 926.1001, defines the “minimum performance criteria for rollover protective structures” for heavy equipment such as front loaders. Top Chicago construction accident or injury lawyers are familiar with OSHA regulations, and can identify violations that may have caused the serious injury or death on the construction site.
Though front end loaders are useful around construction sites, making it easy to move and transport large, heavy materials without pushing or dragging the materials on the ground, they are fatally dangerous, if not used properly and in accordance with applicable regulations. Because the heavy materials being moved are carried in the front, and in some cases, in the front and up high, balance and safety mechanisms are key. Construction sites are not necessarily smooth roads, so rollovers are a risk, as is the load falling back onto the driver.
It is important to note that not only the operator of a front loader is at risk of severe injury, but so are those other construction workers on the construction site. For example, other construction workers on the construction site’s ground level easily could have been killed by the Bobcat front loader that fell several stories recently. Uneven surfaces can cause loads to shift and fall in front, injuring other workers. The large bucket can obstruct views of what is in front of a front loader, especially if the bucket is not in a raise position.
This is why it is so critical for property owners, contractors, subcontractors and manufacturers to comply with all applicable rules and regulations pertaining to heavy machinery on construction sites. Responsibility for complying with OSHA and other regulations lies with, not only the construction worker, but also with his or her supervisors, subcontractors, contractors and others. Had those regulations been followed, maybe the recent tragic accident involving the man killed in a front loader would have been prevented. Note: in cases where the front loader or other piece of heavy machinery did not function properly or was otherwise defective, there may be a product liability action against the manufacturer or distributor. In any serious construction site accident, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury and construction accident lawyer well versed in OSHA equipment guidelines, state laws and case history. Contact one of Passen & Powell’s construction accident attorneys today at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.