If you work around any kind of heavy equipment, you need to have a healthy respect for it. Most, if not all, equipment used in construction, mining, forestry, farming and other industries is big and powerful – and for those reasons, inherently dangerous. And although most of us are well aware of the hazards involved, every year around the world there are still thousands of heavy equipment-related incidents that result in property damage or injuries and, unfortunately in some cases, fatalities.
There’s never usually one simple blanket reason or one type of person we can attribute heavy equipment-related incidents to – they can happen to seasoned operators as well as newly trained ones. Obviously every machine and every situation comes with its own set of hazards, but there are some general safety rules you can follow to help you end every work day safely.
- Make sure you’ve been properly and sufficiently trained on the equipment you’re using by qualified, experienced people.
- Be aware, stay alert and know your equipment’s blind spots – whether you’re the operator or just working around it.
- Communicate with people working around you – either via two-way radios or a spotter who’s been trained on standard hand signals. Never assume people know what you’re going to be doing.
- Always wear high-visibility clothing and steel-toed boots.
- Always wear your seat belt. It seems obvious, but it’s easily forgotten. In case of a rollover this can be a life saver.
- Don’t climb on or get off equipment while it’s moving.
- Never exceed the load that a machine is rated to carry.
- Climb on and off equipment properly. Falls are still the number one cause of injury, so never jump off equipment and always use three-point contact (both feet and one hand or one foot and both hands on the holds at all times) when climbing on or off equipment.
- Always do a walk around and inspect the equipment before you start using it. Check tires, tracks, components and other mechanisms for cracks, damage or anything caught in them.
- Always load and unload equipment on level ground to reduce the risk of rollovers, and keep the area clear.