7 Safety Tips for Heavy Equipment Operators

7 safety tips for heavy equipment operators

No matter what kind of construction project you are working on, whether it is building a home or working on road maintenance, using a wide range of heavy equipment is integral. 

Operating heavy equipment involves being around powerful machines with moving parts. This is why it is incredibly important to be aware of potential safety hazards and to exercise extreme caution whenever you are on a job site. 

Of course, most construction operations are not a one-person job, so it is essential that you also enforce proper safety standards amongst the crew that you are working with. Having someone injured on a job site could cost you in more ways than one, so it is best to avoid such situations. 

For these reasons, heavy equipment should only ever be operated by certified professionals. Those operators should have thorough training on what to do and what not to do during operation to ensure their safety and everyone else’s.

What are some measures you can take to operate heavy equipment safely?

When it comes to construction site safety, most of the focus should be on heavy equipment operation procedures, as heavy equipment is the source of the most inherent risks. If you keep the following safety tips in mind on each construction site and use them to develop good safety habits, you will never have to worry about your safety or that of your crew:

1. Watch your surroundings

One of the most important parts of maintaining safety on a construction site for heavy equipment operators is maintaining a full awareness of their surroundings when operating such equipment. That means keeping an eye out for overhead power lines, other workers, and even oncoming traffic while working in residential areas. 

A few ways to minimize potential risks in the surrounding area where heavy equipment is being operated is to de-energize nearby electrical lines, call the local utility company to shut off water, gas, and other utilities, and clearly mark the areas where heavy equipment is being used so that everyone on site is aware and can thus stay out of the danger zone.

Technology has also advanced to include systems such as Dotnetix Safeye, where the operator is alerted of nearby hazards, moving or static, and Hemisphere Machine Control that allows you to set notifications for boom height or digging depth to ensure you don’t hit power lines or underground utilities. 

2. Use safe vehicle entry and exit practices

When operators enter and exit heavy equipment vehicles, safety hazard risks are highest, which is why all operators must maintain safe exit and entry practices. Operators should always keep three points of contact when entering and exiting heavy equipment vehicles. 

It is also of utmost importance that they ensure the machinery is turned off and the parking brake is on before exiting the cabin. Finally, to prevent unauthorized usage of heavy equipment, it is necessary that the designated operator releases the pressure from the hydraulic controls and takes the key with them when exiting.

3. Conduct inspections before use

Each day, before operating heavy equipment, it is essential to conduct an inspection using a checklist to ensure that everything is in good condition for operation. The visual component of the inspection should involve looking for any signs of cracked or split hoses, undercarriage irregularities, leaking fluids, or stress points. 

In addition, it is a good idea to check the equipment’s oil, hydraulic fluid, and tire pressure. If any issues are noticed, they should be reported or addressed immediately and fixed before the equipment is used.

4. Maintain lines of communication

While operating heavy equipment, it is necessary to move around constantly, backing up, moving forward, and adjusting the equipment’s position. It is thus always important to be aware of potential risks while engaging in such movements, which is why spotters are essential.

Having multiple spotters on a job site is ideal, and each of them should have two-way radios to communicate with operators and the appropriate PPE gear, like reflective vests, to ensure they can be seen at all times. If two-way radios are not working or accessible, spotters should be trained to use hand signals to direct operators for different types of movement.

5. Use seat belts during equipment operation

It is just as important to wear a seat belt while operating heavy equipment as wearing one while driving a car or a truck. If the vehicle ever crashes or rolls, a seat belt will keep the operator from being thrown, potentially saving their life. If a piece of heavy equipment is not equipped with a proper, working seat belt, it must be reported and dealt with immediately.

6. Create buffer zones

Construction sites are occasionally near active roadways, and as the foot or road traffic increases, this introduces more potential dangers. This is why it is crucial to dedicate members of your crew to setting up and maintaining a buffer zone by keeping pedestrians and vehicles away from heavy equipment. 

In most cases, this involves setting up a physical barrier with road cones and warning signs and having someone keep watch to ensure that no one gets onto the job site unless authorized.

7. Be aware of your limits

Operating heavy equipment can be stressful, especially when there are many potential hazards on a given job site. Being confident while using heavy equipment is important, but operators should never accept situations in which they are uncomfortable working with the equipment. If they do have concerns about how they are being asked to operate their equipment, it is important that they express them. 

It is also important that heavy equipment operators are well-rested and clear-headed before stepping foot onto a job site. Workers who are exhausted, stressed, angry, or distracted could pose risks to themselves and others if there is even the briefest lapse in their focus while operating equipment.

How Servicing Your Heavy Equipment at Great West Equipment Will Help With Worksite Safety

Another one of the biggest threats to construction worksite safety is operating heavy equipment that is in need of maintenance and repairs. When equipment is broken or worn down, accidents are much more likely to happen. Fortunately, Great West Equipment can help with all kinds of heavy equipment services in British Columbia, including maintenance and repairs. 

No matter what type of heavy equipment you have in your fleet, our team of skilled and experienced technicians can perform thorough inspections and any maintenance or repairs that are necessary. We will do everything required to get your equipment back to its peak performance in no time. 

We also offer repair and maintenance support agreements so that you can have your equipment regularly inspected and serviced, thus ensuring that you never run into any unexpected issues. 

For more information about our heavy equipment maintenance and repair services or to learn more about our extensive list of other services, call Great West Equipment at 1-833-730-0613 or contact us here.

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