What is a Spotter?
A spotter is a very important person on a construction site, they help trucks and machinery move around the site when the drivers have limited visibility. Imagine trying to back up a semi-truck and trailer through a busy site when there are holes, moving people, and materials all over the place.
While controlling traffic, it is a little to easy to get in the way. “Struck by” accidents are one of the Focus Four categories (being struck by a vehicle, machine, or material). To keep spotters safe on the job, there are a few rules that should be followed.
Tips and General Rules
For everyone’s safety, it is best to limit the designated construction spotter’s onsite. Too many spotters can cause confusion, so the right number depends on the size and layout of the site.
- Wear high visibility clothing (shirt, coat, or safety vest)
- Unless you are using your phone to communicate with the driver or other spotters, keep your phone in your pocket. You need to maintain 100% focus on the moving vehicles and the paths.
- People First – Look out for all people on site. Know where everyone is generally located before the vehicle begins moving.
- Check out the vehicle – Look for anything that might shift/fall/ or make contact during movement.
- Understand the vehicle and the ground conditions. Is there a high probability the vehicle will get stuck or cause damages.
- Give clear and understandable signals. Communicate with the driver beforehand to ensure that you both agree upon the meaning of a signal.
- Maintain visual contact with the driver – If you cannot see their face, they cannot see you. If you need to move through the path of the vehicle for a better vantage point, stop the vehicle first.
- As you move around the vehicle, keep one hand on it so that you can immediately sense any movement of the vehicle.
- Try to stay on the driver’s side for signaling – drivers can see you better on their rather than look across the vehicle with greater blind spot potential.
- Watch where you are walking – You are the lookout, no one is looking out for you.
If you are not the spotter, do not interrupt the spotter.
If you are not the spotter but you notice a problem that the spotter and driver missed, you have every right to stop them immediately. Safety takes a full team effort, don’t hesitate to stop the show.
If you are the driver, pay attention to your spotter. Communicate if their signals are unclear or if it is difficult to see them.
Questions for you
- Have you ever backed up a trailer with a “bad” spotter? (think about the new boater at the launch)
- Have you ever operated heavy equipment? How difficult is it to see around you?
- What kind of deliveries are common on your site, is there a designated spotter?
Here are a few more Toolbox Talks related to vehicles: Motor Vehicle Safety, Fork Lifts, Dump Trailers