Construction Equipment Operator Safety | Backhoes
When working on a job site, the list of things to remember can be exhaustive. There are steps that need to be followed to complete the job correctly and efficiently, and maintenance of the equipment on site to makes sure things run smoothly. Along with the well-being and safety of your equipment, materials and tools, the safety of the crew on site is crucial.
Cover your bases with the appropriate safety gear like hard hats, steel toed boots, safety yellow vests and shirts, etc. Make sure workers are trained in the best safety practices and are armed with the knowledge to handle any situation.
Know Your Equipment
Always be familiar with the correct way to park and exit a given machine, and know that each machine is different. Do not operate a piece of equipment that you have not been thoroughly trained for, this is for your own safety as well as for others.
Keep track of your equipment’s service history and the recommended maintenance milestones. Don’t put off service and repairs for the sake of your job site and downtime. Machinery malfunctions can happen anytime, and if the warning signs are ignored there is not only a risk for breakdown and expensive repairs, but for compromised safety of everyone involved.
Proper training and understanding of the backhoe that was on a site working on drainage pipe, could have saved a life. When working in unique or adverse conditions like hilly or sloped surfaces, be aware of these conditions and adjust your operating procedure accordingly.
A backhoe operator followed the parking procedure of another machine while it was parked on an incline, but he had not read the operator’s manual that stated the parking brake would not hold the weight of the backhoe in place when it was parked unattended on an angle. This resulted in it rolling downward and pinning the man between it and a retaining wall along the drainage system, causing multiple traumas and later costing him his life.
Make sure to remember the following steps:
- Remember to lower the bucket. The weight of a bucket is enough that it can serve as resistance against sliding, even on a sloped surface.
- Shut it down. Make sure all controls are in neutral, idle and then shut off the engine and remove the key. These extra steps could save a life.
- Go the extra mile. Block or chock the wheels to serve as an extra precaution even when the first two steps have been followed. You can never be too careful.
Take It Seriously
Whenever we do the same thing over and over every day, we can become relaxed because we are creatures of habit, and after some time we operate almost on auto-pilot to get through our daily lives. There are some situations where this may be harmless, but when working with heavy construction equipment you must always be alert.
In 2012 775 fatal injuries were reported for the construction industry, and was the top of all U.S. industries for workplace deaths. This number is up 5% from 2011, although it has been in decline for the past 5 years.
Construction remains the fourth most dangerous profession behind agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting, as well as mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction, transportation and warehousing. Safety regulations and procedures are in place for a reason, to prevent workplace injuries and deaths. Don’t discount these steps as bothersome, they are there for your best interest.