Safety Issues


Dump Truck Driver Died When Struck by Backing Dump Truck

John (not his real name) had returned from dumping his spoils as a second dump truck driver with a full load was leaving the site. The site supervisor radioed the drivers to switch dump trucks. John gathered his personal belongings (lunch container, newspaper, etc.) and exited his three-ton tandem axle Sterling dump truck. As John walked behind his truck to switch trucks, he dropped his newspaper. The second driver entered John’s dump truck and looked for him using the dump truck mirrors. He saw him in the passenger side rear view mirror.

 Unbeknownst to the second driver, John had dropped his newspaper. As John walked back behind his truck and bent down to retrieve it, the second driver began to back John’s truck to the excavation site. The excavation crew noticed John in the path of the backing truck. They ran toward the truck and yelled warnings to him and the driver. The decedent stood up, acknowledged the warnings, and was struck by the backing truck. 

The Truck Operator 

John worked full time as a truck driver for the municipality in the sewer division. He worked for the city for five years and had driven trucks for the city for three years. He was a member of a union. Investigation found that he had been involved in several previous driving incidents which had caused concern about his driving abilities, thus the request to change drivers.

The Incident

The roadway was a curved, median-divided, two-lane road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph. The second driver arrived and his truck was filled. As the second driver was leaving, John arrived with his empty truck. Because he had difficulty following the roadway curve while backing the truck to the excavation, the site foreman suggested to the site supervisor that the two drivers exchange trucks, as the second driver was the more experienced driver (25 years of holding a CDL). The site supervisor agreed, and radioed both drivers and instructed them to switch trucks. The second driver exited his truck, walked to the front and around to the driver’s side of the John’s truck. John collected his belongings and was assisted by the second driver, who then entered the cab. As the second driver watched John using the driver’s side mirror, John walked behind his truck moving from the driver’s side to the passenger side. The second driver saw John in the passenger side mirror. John dropped part of his newspaper. John retrieved the paper just as the second driver placed John’s truck into reverse to back it to the excavation site.   The decedent’s coworkers at the excavation site, hearing the backup alarm of the tandem axle truck and noting the decedent’s location behind the truck and out of view of the backing driver, began to yell warnings to the decedent. As they ran toward the backing truck, the decedent apparently heard his coworkers yelling, stood up and acknowledged his coworkers. He was then struck and knocked down by the truck and run over by the dual rear wheels. The truck’s backup warning signal was operational.  


    • Employers should ensure that written backing protocols are in place and that designated individuals are assigned as spotters to direct backing construction vehicles on construction sites.
    • Employers should ensure that workers who are on foot stay out of the work area where heavy equipment is operating and in clear view of operators.
    • Employers should utilize the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Safety and Health topic Highway Work Zone Safety topic page to provide employee training concerning blind spots for construction equipment.
    • Heavy equipment owners should consider equipping vehicles with devices to detect the presence of individuals or objects behind the vehicle.

    Department of Medicine

    Occupational and Environmental Medicine

    909 Fee Road, Room 117 West Fee Hall

    East Lansing, MI  48824-1315

    Safety Issues is presented by the FACE (Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation) Programs of California, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA). The goal of the FACE program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then developing and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace.

    The complete detailed MIFACE INVESTIGATION REPORT: #08MI040 includes additional report information recommendations and discussions. This report can be found at  and is for educational purposes only. Additional MIFACE Investigation Reports, Summaries of MIOSHA Inspections, and Hazard Alerts can be accessed through the MSU Occupational and Environmental Medicine program at

    The Safety Issues and Investigation Reports are the products of NIOSH Cooperative State partners and are presented here in their original unedited form from the states. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the NIOSH.