Dump trucks are essential heavy equipment in the Bakken oil field. What makes them so useful, of course, is their tilting bed that allows for quick emptying of their load. However, it is also this very same bed that makes them prone to causing accidents that can cause severe construction injuries.
The problem is that their long beds, designed to haul more material, rise to great heights when they are tilted on end. This height, combined with the soft ground the trucks often operate on, make dump trucks top-heavy, unstable, and prone to tipping over. Contributing factors include:
Uneven, Sloped, or Soft Ground
The top-heavy nature of a dump truck with a raised bed means that it doesn't require much of a slope to cause tipping. If the ground is insufficiently packed, uneven settling of the truck's rear wheels will also cause tipping of the raised bed.
Uneven Tire Pressure, Poor Suspension, or Faulty Lifting System
Even when parked on a solid level surface, uneven rear tire pressure or poor suspension on one side of the truck may cause tipping while the bed is raised. A lifting cylinder that's worn or otherwise has a mechanical problem may cause bed tilting as well.
Too Much Material at the Top End of the Bed
Too much material at the top of the raised bed increases its top-heaviness. This can happen when the material sticks at the top while the material near the bottom empties out. This could be caused by bed repair work that catches the material. Sometimes material may empty from one side of the bed, while the remainder sticks. This again causes an imbalance.
When a dump truck tips over, the danger isn't necessarily limited to the truck operator. Nearby people and trucks are also at risk of injury from the falling bed. In fact, multiple dump trucks have experienced a "domino effect" when they successively tip onto the other.
Other Dump Truck Hazards
If the dump truck operator doesn't maintain an awareness of what is overhead, the raised bed may contact electrical power lines. This can also happen if the operator drives away with the bed in the raised position and snares a power line. The downed lines may injure nearby people or the dump truck driver if he or she steps out of the truck while the lines are still electrified.
People doing repair or maintenance work between the raised bed and truck frame, risk getting crushed if the bed unexpectedly moves. Lifting hydraulics, safety supports, makeshift supports, or external methods of holding the bed in place can fail and allow the bed to fall on the worker beneath.
If you suffered from a construction injury involving dump trucks or other heavy equipment, don't hesitate to seek legal advice from the experienced lawyers at Odegaard Braukmann Law. Contact us today.