Operating and working around heavy equipment is dangerous. Your guidance and leadership are an important factor in keeping heavy equipment operators and workers on foot safe.
Be a Better Supervisor
What is important to you will be important to your workers and those that report to you. When it comes to the safe operation of heavy equipment what message are you sending? Here are a few behaviors that show your commitment to safety and your workers.
- Demand safety be a priority for every job.
- Provide thoughtful and relevant training.
- Ensure each worker has the PPE they need to be safe – and they know how to use it.
- Remember the rules apply to you too. Follow the rules and set the expectation that your direct reports and workers follow them too.
Pre-planning is a major factor in the safety of every job, including jobs that involve heavy equipment. Travelers Insurance offers these suggestions to reduce the risk of injuries:
- Use trained and, where required, certified equipment operators and spotters.
- Provide heavy equipment hazard awareness and safe work practices training to workers.
- Provide a copy of/access to the operating manual for machinery to the operator.
- Develop a path site plan for vehicles, heavy trucks and deliveries to help avoid or limit vehicles and equipment backing up.
- Set up a limited-access zone or swing radius around heavy equipment.
- Provide equipment with rollover protective structure (ROPS).
- Maintain equipment to be in good operating condition.
- Before any equipment maintenance is performed, utilize lockout/tagout procedures.
- Provide a cab shield or canopy worker protection for top-loading vehicles.
- Increase visibility and lighting for night work.
Take Time for Training
Protecting heavy equipment operators and workers on foot begins with proper training.
- Training should consist of formal (classroom-type or online) instruction, demonstrations by the trainer, practical exercises performed by the trainee, and an evaluation of the operator’s performance in the workplace.
- Provide pedestrian awareness training for operators and any workers who around heavy equipment.
Establish and Enforce Safe Work Procedures
- Provide operator manuals for equipment operators and vehicle maintenance employees to review.
- Ensure that operators wear appropriate clothing and protective equipment (hearing protection, work gloves, sturdy work shirt and pants, safety footwear, reflective vests, hard hat, etc.).
- Establish hand signals (if ground workers are present).
- Conduct regular vehicle inspections (use a daily sign in/inspection sheet).
- Make sure equipment has a rollover protective structure (ROPS).
- Fill tank with fuel when the equipment is cool with the engine off (no smoking).
- Inspect steps, handrails, pedals, grab irons, and cab floor for debris or defects.
- Always wear seatbelts.
- Check controls for proper operation (including backup alarms).
- Check the work area for obstacles, holes, overhead utility lines, etc.
- Have the utility service provider identify underground cables and supply lines before digging.
- When working on slopes, operate up and down the face of the slope instead of across the face.
- Never jump off or onto the equipment (use 3-point contact rule).
- Never exit a running vehicle (turn the vehicle off if the operator must leave the cab).
Exiting the Vehicle
- Park on level ground
- Relieve pressure from all hydraulic controls
- Wait for all motions to stop, then safely dismount the vehicle using 3-point contact rule
- Remove the key from unattended vehicles
Establish and Enforce Inspection Procedures
Pre-use inspection of equipment is a must. It is required by safety regulations and standards in most places, and where it’s not, it’s an industry best practice.
- Checklists must be equipment specific. There will be general items on the list but make sure you’re creating or editing a pre-made list that fits your needs.
Don’t allow inspections to be “pencil-whipped”. Inspections are serious business and failing to properly do them should have consequences.