Top Safety Tips: Safely Operating Construction Equipment
Construction equipment is some of the most powerful machinery there is today. However, their formidable abilities also make them some of the most dangerous machines to operate. Though modern equipment has more safety features than ever before, operators still need to be alert and always exercise caution when controlling the machines.
Mounting and Dismounting Vehicles
Climbing on and off construction equipment is the number one cause of injury for operators. Even for those with experience, one misplaced foot or hand could result in a serious accident. Keep in mind that your vehicle may need to be adjusted to best suit your size—if you require additional handles or steps, have them installed.
Everyone is not the same, and you can’t assume that manufacturers have your specific height and build in mind when designing their machines. Do yourself a favor and make it as easy and as safe as possible to mount and dismount your vehicle.
To keep yourself safe on the climb up and down, be sure to:
- Wear gloves and boots. Both should be kept clean to ensure that you have as much grip as possible when getting onto your machine.
- Use a three-point stance as you ascend and descend. This means that three limbs should always be in contact with three separate areas of the equipment, either steps or handles. This method distributes your weight to keep you safe; if one of your feet or hands slips, you can regain stability quickly.
- Place your hands and feet securely. Don’t rely on a fingertip or a few toes to keep you stable—always put your entire foot or hand on an adequate step or handle, and take your time doing so.
- Use a stepladder if you need to. Step ladders can be a safe alternative when a machine does not have mounting/dismounting equipment that you feel comfortable with.
- Never carry objects while climbing up or down. Keep both of your arms free in case you need to catch yourself.
- Avoid reaching for handrails. Everything you need to grab or step on should be within easy reach; if it’s not, don’t try to stretch for it.
Working with construction equipment is not a simple job. Whether an operator is an experienced veteran or newly-trained beginner, safety is always an imperative issue that requires thorough attentiveness. Below is a list of basic rules and safe work practices that should be observed in addition to any agency-specific safety guidelines.
Follow these steps to keep yourself, your employees, and your equipment safe throughout the operating process.
- Ensure operators wear appropriate clothing and protective equipment.
- Establish hand signals (if ground workers are present).
- Conduct regular vehicle inspections.
- Make sure equipment has a rollover protective structure (ROPS).
- Fill tank with fuel when the equipment is cool with the engine off.
- 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.
- When working on slopes, operate up and down the face of the slope instead of across the face.
- Never jump off of 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 using the 3-point contact rule.
- Remove the key from unattended vehicles.
At McClung-Logan, our customers’ safety is our top priority.