The United States utilizes heavy machinery on almost all construction projects. Heavy construction equipment is required to build and maintain the nation’s infrastructure, from massive road projects to residential homebuilding, and remaining safe by following heavy equipment safety tips when working with heavy machinery is critical.
Working with or around extensive construction equipment instills a healthy respect for the heavy machines’ capacity. You need to know what your equipment can do, whether you’re working with a vast excavator on a commercial construction site, a grader in the road building sector, or a skid steer on a domestic restoration project. That includes the things it can do to you.
Heavy construction equipment can be deadly when operated incorrectly. Still, most employees go about their regular tasks without getting hurt because they are aware of the risks connected with equipment operating and take precautions to avoid mishaps. These savvy operators and assistance well understand the necessity of heavy machinery safety.
THE VALUE OF SAFETY IN HEAVY EQUIPMENT
No one can overstate the importance of heavy equipment safety. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the construction sector is one of the most dangerous industries in America. The record shows there were 4,693 workers killed on the job in 2016. Furthermore, 21.1 percent of those deceased, or 991 workers, were killed on construction sites. One out of every five construction workers in the United States perished on the job.
According to OSHA, construction workers died and injured themselves for four main reasons. These are known as the “fatal four” because they account for two-thirds of all fatal accidents. According to OSHA, removing the fatal four unintentional causes would save the lives of around 631 American employees each year. The following are the four deadly accident causes:
Falls accounted for 38.7% of worker deaths, with falls from a height or construction equipment accounting for the rest.
Struck by an Object: 9.4% of construction workers died due to being struck by an object on the job.
Electrocutions: 8.3 percent of construction worker deaths were caused by being accidentally electrified by electricity.
Caught In-Between: In the United States, 7.3 percent of construction workers perished due to being caught between components of construction machinery or materials.
In collaboration with state and local partners, OSHA shifted its focus from enforcement-based safety to educational support. As a result, American worker fatalities have decreased from 38 per day in 1970 to 14 per day in 2016, thanks to the combined efforts of government regulators and private entities like companies, unions, and safety experts.
Heavy equipment safety tips were a priority for everyone in the construction sector. They also resolved to act and improve working conditions on building sites. Workers were educated and given thorough safety instructions as part of this. One of the most important goals was to remove, mitigate, and lessen hazards for people who work with heavy machinery.
RISKS OF WORKING WITH HEAVY EQUIPMENT
While falls and electrocutions are the most common construction-site injuries, being struck by objects and caught between mechanical components and materials is more common in heavy machine operations than in typical site conditions. Therefore, mitigating potentially unsafe conditions and making all personnel aware of their status are vital to preventing or minimizing equipment-related injuries.
Workers’ attention and knowledge of their job site surroundings are called situational awareness. There are three main concepts to follow for defining and recognizing job site dangers. First, all workers must be aware of the following hazard categories:
1. Mechanical Dangers
There are moving parts in all heavy construction equipment. The threat comes from the energy stored in machinery parts and releasing it. Most machines are relatively stable and safe when not in use. However, they have tremendous power and can cause severe damage while operational.
When working around equipment, keep an eye out for moving parts that could cause injury. Machinery and equipment that can release debris and hit someone can also be hazardous. Rotating shafts, colliding surfaces, scissor or shear action, sharp edges, and detachable connections are common mechanical risks. Entanglement, crushing, severing, cutting, and puncturing are all mechanical risks, as are slips and falls when dodging moving components.
2. Hazards that aren’t mechanical
Components in motion are not the only source of severe equipment risks. Almost every machine has a reserve of energy. Examples are gases or fluids under pressure, electrical charges, and hot surfaces. Non-mechanical dangers to workers include unpleasant chemicals such as exhaust emissions and chemical by-products. Consider the noise pollution that heavy machinery operations cause.
Workers that are situationally aware always check their machinery for non-mechanical hazards. They are aware of how heavy machinery impacts the surrounding region or environment. Non-mechanical risks include:
Environments that are explosive or flammable
High-intensity light radiates and conducts heat, such as lasers or welding arc flashes.
Lead, mercury, and cadmium are examples of heavy metals.
Releases on Steam
Microwaves and X-rays are examples of ionizing radiation.
Burns, lung damage, and long-term elevated risk of cancer-related disorders are among the health dangers posed by non-mechanical hazards.
3. Dangers of Access
Many industrial injuries and deaths occur because workers have unsafe access around machinery paths. Workers become accidentally imprisoned and exposed to mechanical and non-mechanical hazards when they do not have safe access to and from a specific spot. Proper design, putting in protections, and boosting workers’ situational awareness can help them avoid being stuck between harmful components or struck by objects.
Consider who is allowed into a dangerous place or scenario and what equipment and materials are in use when it comes to reducing access dangers. Rather than reacting to an unanticipated scenario, access control must be anticipated and prepared ahead of time. The most effective way to reduce access-related accidents is to communicate all mechanical and non-mechanical heavy equipment hazards adequately.
SAFETY OF COMMUNICATION AND HEAVY EQUIPMENT
Hazard mitigation entails a set of instructions for dealing with potentially risky events. You can avoid hazards if possible, or at the very least, replace them with something less harmful. If this isn’t achievable, industries must implement risk controls to prevent or limit the risk of harm or injury. Workplace health and safety standards require communication between workplace risks and risk controls. According to the law, workers must use hazard communications in the “highest order.”
High-order risk controls send out safety warnings right away. Non-mistakable signage that indicates existing hazards and prescribes safe procedures for personnel exposed to them are examples of high-order communication.
Lower-order hazard controls explain the safety precautions that workers must take when working near potentially risky equipment.
For example, a lower-level communication approach prescribes the appropriate personal protective equipment and specifies safe workplace actions such as de-energizing equipment and shutting out activation devices.
The hazard communication order chain includes administrative controls. For example, standard operating procedures include complete instructions for safe operation and exposure reduction. Another successful method of administrative control for accident prevention is verbal communication, such as toolbox meetings.
Many organizations employ administrative controls to disseminate safety information to employees. Adequate safety procedures include personnel at all levels, from equipment operators to those who work in their immediate vicinity. Giving safety guidelines and emphasizing the necessity of heavy equipment safety improves situational awareness.
SAFETY ADVICE FOR CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT
It is everyone’s responsibility to stay safe when working with extensive machinery. Sharing knowledge about heavy equipment safety tips is also essential. The most excellent firms with the finest safety records have a corporate culture that emphasizes safety as a core value. They’ve created a reputation for safety through a behavioral-based strategy that encourages employees to commit to safety rather than comply with legislation.
Safety-conscious cultures encourage all employees to recognize potential hazards and work together to eliminate them. They make all workplace hazards known and educate workers about the dangers of construction machinery.
Identifying and controlling job site dangers is a continuous activity. As work advances, situations on the job site frequently change, and it’s critical to communicate changing conditions. However, there are many instances where workers expose themselves to the same hazards daily. Here are some tried-and-true safety recommendations for anyone working with big machinery:
Keep yourself out of the line of fire.
This tip is a top-of-the-line safety recommendation. Every location around a piece of heavy equipment where a worker could get caught in-between or hit by a mobile object is called the line-of-fire. Both the operator and the ground worker enforce the line-of-fire regulation. There must be clear communication between the machine operator and the workers surrounding them about what they want to perform.
Make eye contact with the other person. It is vital to maintain eye contact with a heavy equipment operator for safety reasons. Both the operator and the surrounding workers are aware of each other by making eye contact. This step prevents a machine or material from swinging at a stationary worker who might approach the line of fire.
Make good use of communication signals. Radio communication between machine operators and support employees is every day on construction sites. Knowing what others are doing and communicating changes in operation is critical for safety, and there is no better method than vocal communication. Radios, on the other hand, are not infallible. Presenting hand signals is a fail-safe communication method.
Have spotters on hand. Many construction equipment operators use spotters, including those who operate excavators, delivery trucks, and cranes. There are blind areas on every machine when the operator is visually challenged. Using a ground spotter is a high-value insurance policy against moving equipment or materials into potentially unsafe positions by accident.
Determine a hazard zone and mark it.
Construction sites openly show hazards to anyone near construction equipment by marking a danger zone. The danger zone is where the line of fire begins and ends. Construction industries use barriers, fencing, or caution tape to restrict the risk zone. However, it’s also practical to use simple signs that clearly explain the safety boundaries.
Make sure you’re aware of the situation. Employees on a construction site must be situationally aware of their surroundings. Overhead and subsurface risks are two of the most dangerous sources of injury. Power lines struck by booms or high dump boxes are examples of this. It would be best to suggest burying electric and gas lines. Again, it is possible to save lives by being aware of the circumstance.
Keep your eyes and concentration on the task at hand. For your safety, you must remain vigilant. Workers who focus on the task at hand are significantly less likely to be in an accident. Fatigue, complacency, frustration, and hurrying are common causes of inattentiveness. According to safety experts, Distractions like these can account for 95 percent of contributing variables in construction site accidents. Although workers were aware of the threats, they did not consider or see them.
Identify the equipment zone’s entrances and exits. Equipment zones should have a specific entrance and entry, and those zones should have a clear and safe path that prevents operator blind spots. It must also be devoid of hazards that cause people to slip, trip, or fall. Construction sites should delineate and strictly enforce those zones.
Maintain three-point contact at all times.
Getting on and off heavy equipment is similarly governed by entry and exit zones. For example, on an ingress/egress ladder or stairs, a worker must always have three points of contact according to the safety industry standard known as “three-point contact.” Operators use this rule because both feet or hands are contacting a step, rung, or handrail at any time. This step provides excellent grip and stability.
Operators should inspect the heavy equipment regularly. There should always be a pre-start walk around to identify evident flaws and correct them before they become dangerous concerns. It’s also a good idea for anyone working near machinery to keep an eye out for issues like loose attachments, worn parts, and foreign items caught in components.
Maintain your vehicle regularly. Well-maintained equipment is safety equipment. Therefore, operators should also perform maintenance on all machines regularly. Hourly interventions, seasonal changes, or mileage maintenance programs are examples. Preventive maintenance is an essential aspect of overall safety performance, and operators should never put off the routine until a machine breaks down.
Provide instruction. Training equipment operators considerably minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries. Operators must train on the individual machine they are operating and be aware of the equipment’s limitations. That way, there’s less of a possibility of it overextending its capabilities and rolling over or colliding with others.
Formalize certification procedures. Training a heavy equipment operator is one thing.
It’s another matter to ensure they’ve retained the information and are qualified to function. An operator’s certification assures that they can safely operate heavy machines. In an incident and investigation, certification also protects a corporation by demonstrating operator training.
Use equipment according to its purpose and role in the task. Engineers made the machine perform specified tasks and not perform other tasks. For example, skid steer buckets are unsuitable for transporting people, while the excavators are not for aerial man lifts. Therefore, you can reduce getting hurt when you utilize a suitable machine for the job.
Ensure that you are familiar with the operator’s manual. Ensure that everyone involved with heavy equipment is familiar with the operator manual. Manufacturers go to great lengths to detail safety precautions to prevent mishaps with their equipment. You can find heavy equipment safety tips information and advice in manuals. A few minutes spent reading the operator manual may teach you some unexpected safety lessons.
Always remember to wear PPE. The law requires workers to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at every professional worksite across the country. Some are specific to a particular location or piece of equipment. When working with large machinery, noise, dust, and heat are immediate safety concerns. In addition, proper hearing, breathing, and thermal protection significantly improve the personal health and safety of the individual.
Don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt.
The use of a seat belt is not limited to highway vehicles. When operating equipment, always use the seat belt or harness that the manufacturer installed. In the case of a rollover or side tipping, the operator is restrained by seat belts. It is avoidable to be ejected by a machine and crushed on impact by merely wearing a seat belt.
When feasible, de-energize energy sources. Those operating on or around big machines face substantial dangers from energized sources. Therefore, before maintaining or repairing energy sources, de-energizing them is critical. An exposed and unprotected worker can be electrocuted, blasted, or scalded instantly by electrical energy, hydraulic pressure, or trapped heat. If deactivating an energy source isn’t practicable, the activation device must be locked out and tagged to alert other personnel to the danger.
When it comes to fueling, use caution and follow the proper measures. There are numerous dangers to feeding a machine, including dangers to workers and the environment. Constantly fuel first, and try in a controlled environment. This step might happen at a dedicated fueling station equipped with ignition sources and spill containment systems. Also, never employ a device to prevent a fuel delivery nozzle from opening.
Make sure you’re braking and blocking correctly. Always keep an eye on a parked vehicle. Applying the parking brake on a scraper or grader, for example, depends on the equipment type. It could be lowering a blade or bucket on a dozer or loader or chocking the wheels on a skid steer with rubber tires. It is critical to ensure that the machine does not move unless an operator commands it.
HEAVY EQUIPMENT SAFETY TIPS FOR HEAVY MACHINERY
There are dozens of various types of heavy machinery and hundreds of different types of equipment. The majority of the heavy equipment safety tips apply to all machine activities. However, some are more relevant to certain equipment than others. Quirks surrounding specific equipment pieces will be familiar to well-trained operators. However, safety recommendations for specialized machinery are helpful for persons who are not officially training but are working with construction equipment. Here are some of the most frequent construction machines, as well as some further advice:
EXCAVATORS, FOR EXAMPLE
Excavators are efficient in almost every construction project. The majority of construction excavators have rubber tires, although others have tracks. Excavators come in various sizes, from small machines for confined spaces to massive machines capable of moving hundreds of yards of material per bucket. When operating or working near an excavator, keep the following in mind:
On construction sites, motor graders are widespread, especially where road construction and clearing operations are taking place. No equipment can substitute for a grader for smoothing, beveling, and angling finished grades. On the other hand, motor graders can be dangerous if not used properly. Here are a few pointers for graders:
Keep an eye on the width of the blade with obstacles and barriers.
Know how to adjust the steering frame lock-links and the wheel lean lock bolts.
Be aware that overheating grader tires might explode violently.
Bulldozers are powerful earthmovers ideal for moving large amounts of debris around construction projects. Bulldozers, like all heavy machinery, have their quirks. The following are some bulldozer safety tips:
On hills, always work up and down, avoiding cross slope operations.
When traveling, keep the blade at least 15 inches above ground level.
To avoid spearing, be cautious when working in areas with fallen trees.
Compactors are available in a variety of configurations. Some of the options are regular soil compactors, pneumatic rollers, tandem vibratory rollers, and landfill compactors. But, of course, nothing beats a motorized compactor for compacting materials for foundation and roadbed construction. When operating with or near compactors, keep the following in mind:
Before using the equipment, walk around it to check for existing damage, leaks, or looseness.
Use a spotter when compacting in crowded places and limited vision.
Always use suitable handholds when exiting a compactor and never jump from the ladder.
With Interstate Heavy Equipment and heavy equipment safety tips, you’ll be safe.
Interstate Heavy Equipment deals in all major brands available in the US and Canada. We also finance and work with almost the budget to help your business. In addition, you will rest assured that your heavy equipment was free from any damages as we provide a 100-point inspection for every piece.
Please feel free to look around our website to see what Interstate construction equipment is available. Call us today at 469-370-7501 or visit https://interstateheavyequipment.com/ for superior heavy equipment, safe workplace operations, and heavy equipment safety tips.