"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
Shell, 61, was a contractor working on the bridge. At the time of the accident, he was walking on a ramp leading to the bridge. The delivery truck was slowly rolling down the ramp in reverse when it struck Schell. SILive reported that the accident occurred in a closed work zone on an eastbound ramp leading to the bridge.
Schell was employed by STV, the company hired by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) to inspect and consult on the construction project.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was investigating the accident.
Hundreds of road construction workers are injured or die on the job every year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011.
OHSA defines a backover incident as an accident that occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. Accidents caused by backing construction vehicles or equipment on construction worksites can be prevented.
Backover accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Drivers may not be able to see a worker in their blind spot. Worksite noises may prevent workers from hearing backup alarms, or the alarms may not be working. Drivers may assume that the area is clear and not look carefully enough as they back up. Sometimes, the reason why a worker was in the path of a backing vehicle is unclear. Backover incidents can also be caused by a combination of factors.
Dump trucks caused the most backover fatalities in the years 2005 through 2010.
Training can help to prevent backover incidents. All vehicles have blind spots and truck drivers must be aware of where these spots are located. Pedestrians may not be conscious of where they are in relation to the truck and if the trucker can see them. By training all construction employees, not just drivers, on where those blind spots are and how to avoid being in them, employers can reduce the number of backover incidents.
Other solutions to prevent backover incidents include, using a spotter to help a driver back up his or her vehicle; video cameras with in-vehicle display monitors that can give drivers a view of the area behind them; radar, sonar or other proximity detection devices can alert drivers to objects that are behind them; and tag-based systems can inform drivers when other workers are behind the vehicle and can alert workers when they walk near a vehicle equipped to communicate with the tag they are wearing.
An injury caused by a worker’s employer or a member of his or her crew qualifies that worker for New York workers’ compensation benefits. However, if a worker was injured because of defective equipment, negligence by another work crew or a third party on the work site, or because of any third party’s actions, he or she may be entitled to seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
The SILive.com report cited is “Construction worker dies after he’s struck by truck on Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.”