Top 5 Safety Tips For Heavy Equipment Operators

Heavy Equipment Is Everywhere On The Construction Site

Almost all construction projects have heavy equipment and machinery used to complete tasks and various purposes. Whether building a new home or regular road maintenance work, heavy equipment is an integral part of today’s construction job sites. Heavy equipment like excavators and pavers help construction workers get more work done in less time. However, while heavy equipment helps get more work done faster, it can also be hazardous if not used properly. You and your crew will need to evaluate your operating environment and other work conditions to ensure your heavy equipment is operated correctly. Heavy equipment should only be operated by a certified professional who has proper training and experience for the particular equipment along with management oversight. If you want to operate heavy construction equipment as safely as possible, then you should have a game plan to keep your team on the same page while on the job site. Let’s take a look at five easy ways to keep your construction site safe from unnecessary damage or injuries while operating heavy machinery.

1. Watch Your Surroundings

Operators need to be mindful of their surroundings while operating machinery on the job site. There are many dangers like overhead powerlines, passing workers, and even oncoming traffic in residential areas. All of these variables can make it extremely difficult to operate heavy construction equipment on any worksite. Here are some tips to help keep the surroundings safe and reduce unnecessary risk to machine operators, other workers, and the public.
  • De-energize electrical lines to ensure accidents won’t impact surrounding homes or injury operators.
  • When digging, be sure to call the local utility company, so water, gas, and other utilities are turned off.
  • Clearly mark where heavy equipment will be operated to keep other workers from entering the “danger zone.”
Whenever possible, workers and pedestrians should be kept out of the area where heavy equipment is in operation. Operators should be aware of their swing radius, clearance, and other factors to keep the working space as safe as possible.

2. Safe Vehicle Entry/Exit & Inspections

Falling is the most common cause of construction deaths, and there are thousands of construction work-related injuries caused when machine operators don’t enter or exit the heavy equipment properly. Always maintain three points of contact when entering and exiting the vehicle, and always keep extra items out of the cab. Ensure the machinery is turned off with the parking brake on before exiting the cabin. You should also release pressure from the hydraulic controls and take the key with you when exiting the heavy equipment to prevent unauthorized use in your absence. It would help if you always inspected the heavy equipment before use to make sure it is in good operating condition. Along with a visual inspection, you should also check the oil, hydraulic fluid, and other machine functions throughout the day. Performing visual inspections and keeping a close eye on the fluids will prevent damage to the machinery and attachments.

3. Maintain Lines Of Communication

Whether backing up or adjusting position, heavy equipment operators must be 100% sure that it’s safe to complete the desired movement. Spotters are the best way to prevent accidents, and each spotter should have a two-way radio to communicate with the operator throughout the day. If your team does not have a two-way radio, the team will need to use hand signals or signs to communicate with each other.
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All spotters should wear appropriate PPE gear like bright safety vests to ensure operators can see the team. In addition to wearing the right PPE gear like safety vests and safety glasses, spotters should also be in charge of redirecting pedestrians and oncoming traffic to ensure safety while heavy equipment is in operation.

4. Create Buffer Zones

All construction sites have inherent dangers, but these dangerous environments add lots of complexity when work sites are near active roadways or lots of pedestrian traffic nearby. In these cases, you should always have a team working to keep vehicles and pedestrians away from heavy equipment.
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In most cases, you will need to set up a physical barrier between traffic and heavy equipment. This is often accomplished with warning signs like road cones along with physical barriers along roadways. You will need to refer to the DOT handbook to see how to set up your buffer and caution area to keep the worksite safe.

5. Know Your Limits

Operating heavy equipment can be stressful, especially if you are working near lots of hazards. Maintaining proper safety procedures and performing your job can be a daunting task even for seasoned veterans. Operators should never put themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable, and they should always use the machinery as intended. Be sure to check the slope, surrounding environment, and other hazards that could impact the heavy equipment’s operation on the job site.

Keep Your Construction Site Safer With Heavy Machinery

If you have been in construction for any length of time, you already know that heavy equipment plays a vital role in ensuring big projects are completed on time and within budget. However, operating equipment can be complicated, and heavy construction equipment can pose dangerous scenarios to any job site. Be sure to implement a safety protocol to keep operators, workers, and pedestrians safe during operation. Use the above five heavy equipment safety tips to keep your construction project moving forward!