Heavy Equipment Safety Tips from Storee

 In Workplace Safety

Experienced operators of heavy machinery have most likely internalized the bulk of heavy equipment safety tips. Still, every construction project and every construction site has its own specific challenges.

Storee wants to ensure that even the most veteran worker is up to date and up to speed on safety recommendations for the various jobs and the various pieces of equipment marshaled for those jobs.

Safety Statistics for Construction Workers

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) encourages everyone to become familiar with what they call the “Focus Four Hazards.” They are:

  1. Falls
  2. Caught-In or Caught-Between
  3. Struck-By
  4. Electrocution

“Construction safety is one of OSHA’s top concerns,” they write in a 2011 training packet. “Construction is among the most dangerous industries in the country and construction inspections comprise 60% of OSHA’s total inspections.”

SafeStart, a safety training organization, says that “large construction projects can pose many safety challenges for those operating equipment. When workers regularly operate heavy equipment and machinery on a site, their tasks inherently carry heavy levels of risk.”

With that in mind, we’ve put together this overview of basic safety tips for heavy equipment operators and those looking to begin the process of becoming properly trained.

Machine Inspections

Operators should have an inspection that they refer to before each work shift. In addition, site managers and general contractors should consider partnering with professional inspectors who can help keep your heavy equipment operation at peak efficiency and safety.

Hand Signals

Operators of heavy machinery should be well-versed in the use of hand signals. In noisy construction and operations environments, it’s not always easy to communicate with our fellow workers.

At construction sites, it’s typical for workers to communicate via radio. However, if and when those radios aren’t operational for whatever reason, a tried-and-true method is available. Hand signals allow for effective communications so that drivers and operators can broadcast their intentions through eye contact alone if necessary.

Spotters in high-visibility clothing can help facilitate communication between the operator, other workers, and passers-by via hand signals.

Personal Protective Equipment

The COVID-19 pandemic has suddenly made personal protective equipment and its acronym (PPE) a familiar term for most people. Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals wear them. But so, too, do nonmedical professionals when they head out for grocery shopping and other essential errands.

What many people may not realize, however, is that PPEs form a crucial and fundamental safety mechanism for all sorts of industries, including construction.

What are some PPEs that go along with construction and heavy equipment? Let’s turn to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration for a partial list:

  • Eye and face protection (safety glasses, face shields)
  • Foot protection. OSHA: “Safety-toed footwear is worn to prevent crushed toes when working around heavy equipment or falling objects.”
  • Hand protection
  • Head Protection (e.g., hard hats “where there is a potential for objects falling from above, bumps to the head from fixed objects, or of accidental head contact with electrical hazards.”
  • Hearing protection. OSHA: “Use earplugs/earmuffs in high noise work areas where chainsaws or heavy equipment are used.”

Three Points of Contact

When mounting and dismounting heavy equipment, always maintain three points of contact, just as one would when climbing a ladder. Doing so reduces the risk of a fall, especially if the operator also follows a related guideline for mounting and dismounting: Never carry anything as you climb into or out of the machinery.

Operating Heavy Equipment

Once the operator is ready to work, it’s important that they wear a seat belt, check for blind spots, and uneven ground before moving, loading, or unloading the equipment. Working with heavy machinery means rollover protection is embedded in the minds of workers who safely operate this equipment.

The operator should have also been apprised of hidden dangers, such as underground utilities and other underground hazards, as well as the presence of power lines above them.

In addition to the mechanical hazards, which should be dealt with via regularly scheduled machine inspections (see above), operators should also be aware of nonmechanical hazards. These can include hot surfaces, dust, steam, fluid or gas releases, and electrical charges, among others.

Last but not least: Always be aware of load limits and adhere to them.

Storee Construction

Since 1966, Storee Construction has been a leading industrial contractor. Based in Springfield, Missouri, our staff of experts understands the intricacies of high-level manufacturing and construction centers. Safety is a top priority on every job we do. Our wide-ranging experience can help with any and all aspects of commercial and industrial construction.

Our construction industry services include but are by no means limited to new construction, renovation and modification, facility relocations, equipment moving, electrical systems and controls, conveyor and equipment installations, custom metal fabrications, and, of course, safety improvements and recommendations.

Get in touch with Storee today to see how we can assist you.