Operation of heavy equipment should always be done by trained persons who have demonstrated their ability to operate properly and safely. Those working around equipment while it is being operated should be trained in how to work safely around the equipment and how to stay clear. Unsafe practices by either can result in injury.
Some basic safety rules to consider for operators and those working around equipment are:
- Have good communication between the operator and surrounding employees. Go over hand signals to be aware of for the operator and anyone on site.
- Most heavy equipment has back up warning alarms that can be heard by nearby workers. Ensure equipment alarms are working properly prior to start of work.
- Ensure the roll over protective structure (ROPS) is in place and in good condition on any heavy equipment being used. The ROPS is designed to protect the operator if the machine tips over. A seat belt should be worn to keep the operator from being thrown from the seat during a rollover.
- If working on slopes, try to avoid moving across the face of the slope. Try to operate up and down the slope face if possible.
- Wear hearing protection when necessary. Protective ear plugs or muffs should be worn when working around or on loud equipment (Do not use electronic music devices or ear buds, as these can affect hearing a coworker or the sound of your machine malfunctioning).
- Never jump onto or off the equipment. Operators should always use the 3-point contact rule when climbing onto or off equipment.
- Employees should be trained on specific safety requirements of the equipment they work with.
Heavy equipment maintenance:
- All heavy equipment should be inspected prior to starting work for the day.
- All equipment should be serviced on a regularly scheduled basis according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Ensure all safety alarms and devices on equipment are in place and working properly.
Make sure you follow all work and equipment-specific safety rules when operating or working around heavy equipment.