Getting Back To Equipment Safety Basics With 10 Tips You Shouldn’t Forget
Construction sites are scenes of constant movement, and everyone is focused on their specific job. That’s a good thing, but too much focus on one thing can lead to inattention somewhere else – equipment safety, for instance. As heavy equipment operator, it’s up to you to protect yourself and help keep your fellow crew members safe from the dangers of moving machinery.
Every operator is trained on equipment safety. Hopefully you practice what you’ve learned every day. Regardless, it’s always good to review safety basics, to be sure you aren’t inadvertently forgetting some detail. With that in mind, here are 10 equipment safety refresher tips – a great subject for your next tomorrow’s morning meeting:
Don’t skip the daily walk-around
This is one of the easiest ways to spot potential problems before they become dangerous. Use a checklist so you don’t overlook anything – many firms now use a mobile tablet and special software for this, because it’s more efficient and allows instant communication between field and office or shop.
Use the steps and handholds
Remember that three-point entrance and exit technique you learned? Always use it – either two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand should be in contact with the machine at all times as you’re climbing up and down. Resist the temptation to simply leap off the machine. Report any damage to handholds or steps (or your seatbelt) right away, so repairs can be made quickly. Missteps and falls account for far too many OSHA-reported injuries each year.
Wear your seatbelt
Rollover protection is great, but even an entirely closed cab can’t keep you from getting injured if you have an accident and aren’t belted in. (Besides, the chances of your machine having a fully-enclosed cab are slim.) Wearing your seatbelt does more than protect you, it also ensures you won’t have to struggle to stay in your seat when working sloped or rough terrain. You’ll get more done, and you’ll be a lot less fatigued by the end of the day.
Watch your blind spots
Today’s new machines are designed to give operators better all-around visibility than ever before, but you still may have blind spots or less-than –deal visibility to the rear. Even if you have to get down out of the cab to physically check, be sure there are no people or other obstructions anywhere around your machine before you start to move. Once you’re moving, use a spotter for extra eyes. Enforce the rules that everyone wears high-visibility safety vests and that anyone working nearby makes eye contact with you.
Stay in touch
Distance and noise can make communication more difficult. Two-way radios can help you overcome those challenges, but they aren’t always practical or available. If not, use a spotter who has been properly trained in hand signaling.
Pre-locate hazards, overhead or below ground
Always walk the jobsite to identify – and flag – any overhead obstructions such as power lines. And always call 811 to locate underground utility conduits for gas, electrical, water or sewer. Never assume you know where they are, because if you’re wrong someone could be seriously injured or even killed. It’s safer to hand dig if you’re working close to these lines. Before you leave for the day, be sure to mark any open trenches or holes that someone could fall into.
Be cautious when loading and unloading equipment
Level ground is a must here, to help prevent equipment from slipping off low-bed ramps or rolling over during loading or unloading. Make sure the area is clear of workers or other moving machinery, and use a spotter to help guide the process.
Never ignore lock-out/tag-out
It’s not a safety suggestion, it’s the law – if you’re about to perform any service or maintenance task on the machine that could unexpectedly start up or release stored energy, you must render the energy source or the entire machine inoperative first. Typical examples include raised loads, attachments, and pinch points. Use locks or visual warnings or tags. Replace any visual reminders that have fallen off or become damaged.
Know your load limit
Safe load limits vary, sometimes significantly, from one piece of equipment to another and under different operating conditions. Especially when lifting, be sure the load is properly secured, and inspect the rigging for damage in advance. Before lifting or moving the load, double-check to be sure other workers and machinery are a safe distance away.
Know your own limit
Operating heavy equipment is tough work – physically and mentally challenging. If you need to take a break, do it, to keep your blood flowing and your mind sharp. Never put yourself in a situation you feel may be unsafe, even if you’re instructed to do so.
These safety basics are easy to follow.
Accidents are costly, in human and financial terms, and they’re most always avoidable. All you have to do is follow these 10 safety tips – all the time.