Almost all construction projects use heavy equipment and machinery to complete tasks and various purposes. Heavy equipment helps get more work done faster but can also be hazardous if not used properly. Heavy equipment should only be operated by certified professionals with proper training and experience for the particular equipment, along with management oversight. There are several safety tips for heavy equipment operators to follow to ensure they operate their machinery safely and effectively. Here are some to consider:

1. Know Your Surroundings

Operators must be mindful of their surroundings while operating machinery on the job site. Many dangers can include overhead powerlines, other passing workers, and even traffic in residential areas. These variables can make operating heavy construction equipment on any worksite extremely difficult.

Here are some tips to help keep surroundings safe and reduce unnecessary risk to machine operators, other workers, and the public:

De-energize electrical lines to ensure accidents won’t impact surrounding homes or injury operators.

When digging, call the local utility company so water, gas, and other utilities are turned off.

Mark where heavy equipment will be operated to keep other workers from entering the “danger zone.”

Stay alert and focused while operating the equipment, paying attention to your surroundings and any potential hazards.

Use caution when working on slopes, near edges, or other hazardous areas.

Workers and pedestrians should be kept out of the area where heavy equipment operates. Operators should be aware of their swing radius, clearance, and other factors to keep the working space as safe as possible.

2. Safe Vehicle Entry/Exit & Inspections 

Work-related injuries occur when machine operators don’t enter or exit their heavy equipment properly. Maintaining three points of contact when entering and exiting the vehicle is important. Ensure the machinery is turned off with the parking brake in place on a level surface before exiting the cabin. Take the key with you when exiting the equipment to prevent unauthorized use in your absence.

Conduct a thorough pre-operation inspection of the equipment, checking for any signs of damage, leaks, or malfunctions before every use to ensure it is in good operating condition. Along with a visual inspection, you should also check the oil, hydraulic fluid, and other machine functions throughout the day. Performing visual inspections and closely monitoring the fluids will prevent damage to the machinery and attachments.

3. Maintain Lines of Communication 

Whether backing up or adjusting position, heavy equipment operators must be 100% sure it’s safe to complete any movement. Spotters are the best way to prevent accidents, and each spotter should have a radio to communicate with the operator. Hand signals or signs can also be used to communicate with each other. Communicate with other workers on the job site and always be aware of their presence.

All spotters should wear PPE gear like bright safety vests to ensure the operators and the rest of the team can see them. With the right PPE gear, like safety vests and safety glasses, spotters can redirect pedestrians and oncoming traffic to ensure safety while heavy equipment is used.

Safety Tips for Heavy Equipment Operators

4. Create Buffer Zones

All construction sites have dangers, but these dangers can be heightened when work sites are near active roadways or lots of pedestrian traffic. In these cases, you should always have a team working to keep vehicles and pedestrians away from heavy equipment with some physical barrier. Warning signs, road cones, and dividers can create a buffer and alert others to dangers on the worksite. As an operator, always follow all traffic rules and regulations when operating equipment on public roads.

5. Know Your Limits

Operating heavy equipment can be stressful, especially if you work near many hazards. Maintaining the proper safety procedures and performing your job can be daunting, even for seasoned veterans. Operators should never put themselves in a situation that makes them uncomfortable and should let someone know if they can’t perform a task safely or use the machinery as intended.

Keep Your Construction Site Safer with Heavy Equipment

Heavy equipment ensures big projects are completed on time and within budget. However, operating equipment can be complicated, and heavy construction equipment can pose dangerous scenarios to any job site. Implement safety protocols to safeguard operators, workers, and pedestrians during operation. At Extreme Safety, we provide safety products, rental equipment, and training services that help to keep your worksites safe. Call us at (310) 856-0166 or visit our website to learn about the services and products we can supply for you!