Heavy equipment is a necessity on nearly every construction project. Unfortunately, they can be extremely dangerous when not used properly. Rollovers, struck by accidents and caught in or between accidents are common ways workers can be injured when working on or near heavy equipment. Follow these construction safety tips when working with heavy equipment on the construction site to ensure you stay productive and maintain an accident-free jobsite:
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When operating heavy equipment, you need to mindful of the area you are working in and any obstacles you may encounter. Overhead power lines should be deenergized, or if that’s not possible, establish barriers to avoid making contact with them. If digging, make sure that all underground utilities, such as sewer, water, gas and electrical, have been identified and clearly marked to avoid damaging them and creating delays and more work.
Whenever possible, workers should be kept out of areas where heavy equipment is in operating. Operators should be aware of their swing radius, especially when working in tighter spaces, to avoid hitting other workers, bystanders, or other vehicles or equipment in the vicinity.
Only Use Equipment as Intended
Each piece of equipment was designed to perform a specific task. Excavators aren’t cranes and wheel loaders weren’t made to carry workers in the bucket and used as an aerial lift. Pick the right piece of equipment for the task at hand and use it as the manufacturer intended.
Don’t overload or overwork equipment. Be mindful of the payload or lift capacity of the equipment. This may require getting a bigger piece of equipment if what you have isn’t enough to get the job done. If lifting material, make sure all riggings are properly secured. Don’t try to go too fast when operating equipment, especially on slopes.
Inspect Equipment Before Use
Visually inspect heavy equipment before each use to ensure it’s in good operating condition. Check tires and tracks for any wear and damage. At the very least, you should check fluid levels such as engine oil and hydraulic fluid and oil levels before you start up the equipment for the first time each day. Check hydraulic hoses, buckets, booms and other components for cracks and damage. Make sure all attachments are securely locked into place.
When you fire up the equipment, make sure the lights, gauges, horn and backup alarms are all working properly. Make sure all arms, shovels, buckets, etc. fully extend in all directions. If the cab rotates, check to make sure it can do so in all directions. Never use equipment that isn’t working properly or appears damaged. Not only could you damage the machine further, but it could be a major safety issue if not fixed before use.