Working in the construction industry has a lot of hazards and this is even more so when doing a heavy equipment operation. Heavy equipment operation can be a pretty dangerous job and may cause injuries if not exercised with caution. Before we go on to delve on the safety tips that heavy equipment operators have to keep in mind before, during, and after the job, we should first clear a few things about what heavy equipment operation is.

Heavy Equipment Operation Does Not Always Mean Heavy.

The most possible common misconception about heavy equipment is that when talking about heavy, it already refers to weight. But in reality, heavy equipment operation can actually be small or lightweight (i.e. mini excavator) as long as it is used on large or heavy construction projects. Large construction projects are the ones that pose many safety challenges for those who are operating equipment. 

It does not matter how much training operators or construction workers have. Here are 10 important safety tips to prevent injury in heavy equipment operation.

  1. Pick the Right Equipment for the Job. 

There are different kinds of heavy equipment that are better equipped for certain kinds of work. If you are going to lift extremely heavy objects, you have to make sure that the equipment you will be using can easily handle the load. You can’t risk having the equipment break in the middle of lifting the heavy object. Falling objects are a common cause of injuries in construction areas.

2. Have Enough Training 

Before starting any work, see to it that workers are properly trained on the procedures to safely operate all the equipment they will be working on. The important topics to be covered must include safety, hazard identifications, safety features of the equipment and safe maneuvering.

3. Awareness of Surroundings

This is really important when operating heavy equipment. You have to always be mindful of the area where you are working. If there are power lines above you, make sure that they are de-energized or if not possible, build barriers to avoid making contact with them. If you are digging, be aware of all underground utilities such as sewer, water, gas and electrical, which should be identified and clearly marked.

4. Entering and Exiting

It has never been impossible that there are workers who suffer injuries from not knowing the right and wrong way to mount and dismount from a piece of heavy equipment. When climbing onto equipment, always see to it that you maintain three points of contact just like you do when climbing a ladder or simply when entering an attic access door. Never carry anything with you as you enter or exit and never jump out or off the equipment to exit.

5. Conduct a Visual Inspection Before Use

Visual inspection of heavy equipment before each use in order to ensure it is in good condition is a must. Check tires and tracks in case there are any wear or damage. Check fluid levels as well, such as engine oil and hydraulic fluid before you start the equipment. Always make sure that the necessary attachments to the equipment are securely locked into place.

6. Only Use the Equipment For its Intended Purpose

Of course, all equipment is designed to perform a specific task. Don’t use excavators as crane and loaders aren’t made to carry workers in the bucket to be used as an aerial lift. Moreover, do not overload or overwork equipment and be mindful of the payload or lift capacity of the equipment.

7. Maintain Good Communication on Site

One way to achieve effective construction safety is by having strong communication between the operators and the others working around them. You can’t expect that all the workers will foresee and operator’s next move which is why it is important to provide two-way radios to workers and operators.

8. Keep the Area Clear

You can do this by surrounding the area with barriers to keep workers from accidentally getting close to the operating equipment. When moving or operating equipment near an area where workers are, use a spotter and communicate by radio or hand signals to keep your blind spots clear.

9. Wear the Right Protective Gear

When on-site, always wear proper personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, safety glasses, sturdy boots, and hard hats. 

10. Know Your Physical and Emotional Limits

It is always important that you are working with alertness, calmness, productivity, and optimism. If you are stressed, distracted, depressed, or angry, you tend to make poor judgment calls and it can lead to injuries or incidents. All of us have different physical, mental and emotional capabilities so for your own safety as well as the safety of your co-workers, never work on a task when you feel that you are physically, mentally or emotionally incapable. Always express your concern and ask for clear instructions.

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