January 4, 2022

What Is A Spotter In Construction?

Most construction sites rely on large vehicles, tight spaces, equipment, and more to get the job done. These elements could be an accident waiting to happen if no one stays on top of the movements and work of others.

To help prevent accidents, OSHA regulations require one person to act as a spotter to make sure that equipment, people, and other hazards on the site do not collide. A spotter is a critical element in ensuring job site safety.

In this blog, we will explain what a spotter is and what their responsibilities are on the job site.

What Is A Spotter?

A spotter is a person who acts as the eyes and ears of the construction site. They often stand near a vehicle or heavy equipment to provide the driver with information about what is going on in their blind spots. This information is shared either verbally or through agreed-upon hand signals.

A spotter is one of the most important jobs because it plays a critical role in ensuring the safety of everyone on site. That is why OSHA requires that a spotter be present at the construction site.

Spotting For Heavy Equipment Operators

There are many different pieces of heavy equipment in the construction industry, each with its own risks and hazards. There are dump trucks, semi-trucks, cranes, forklifts, and other heavy machinery. While all of these pieces of heavy equipment must be operated by highly qualified drivers, they still need the help of heavy equipment spotters.

Forklift spotting is a great example. Forklift spotting goes beyond operating a forklift as a forklift spotter also ensures that a truck operator lifts the load properly, whether it be placing it in the correct location or ensuring it is balanced.

The forklift spotters will also act as another set of eyes and ears for a forklift driver. For instance, if the driver is carrying large steel columns, they may lose sight of the edge of the forklift. The forklift spotter ensures that nothing is in its way. And, if something gets in the way of the forklift or its load, a forklift spotter will have to make sure the forklift driver stops and reroutes.

While drivers are highly qualified individuals, they do need help. Heavy equipment spotters are an integral part of getting work done safely.

Guidelines To Being A Spotter

Maintain Constant Visual Contact

Spotters should maintain visual contact with the driver while the vehicle is moving. If the driver leaves the sight of the spotter, then the line of communication is broken. This could lead to accidents or injury. Being in the line of sight of the driver is a great way to ensure that the line of communication is never disrupted.

Watch For General Safety Hazards

Using a spotter in construction is a great way to find hazards on the construction site. As the spotter looks around to identify hazards for their basic duties, they will also notice other hazards that could impact other workers. For example, forklift spotters could identify overhead structures like overhead power lines when watching the driver lift a load. Spotters' additional duties can also include looking for fall hazards.

Stay On Task

A trained spotter needs to stay on task at all times. If they have headphones in, are texting, or conversing with a fellow employee, they are unlikely to see and stop accidents before they happen.

For example, a truck could be backing up while, unknowingly, an equipment operator is moving the arm of a digger in the same direction. If no one were to instruct drivers about the movements of others, they could collide. Spotters should stay on task at all times to protect the safety of others and themselves.

Complete Proper Training

Managers should provide spotters with thorough training before they begin spotting on the job. The OSHA has a training program to help workers familiarize themselves with the duties and safety procedures of the job.

Guidelines To Keeping Spotters Safe

While it is a spotter's job to keep everyone safe, spotter safety is also integral.

    • Wear high visibility clothing and a hard hat at all times
    • Find a spot that you can safely scan the site
    • Have drivers agree on hand signals before you begin working
    • Put away personal mobile phones to limit distractions on the job
    • Never stand behind heavy equipment
    • Do not walk into the path of moving equipment, vehicles, or a swinging load
    • Both the spotter and operator should complete a comprehensive training program

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