Safety and heavy equipment

Elvis Elvis

This is where our journey begins…SAFETY FIRST. I want you to tell yourself everyday that you’re going to work safe no matter what anyone else tells you to do…it’s called the right to refuse. More and more companies strive for zero lost time…..and nobody has the right to ask you to do anything that is unsafe. Most companies have what they call a toolbox meeting every morning before anyone starts work, they talk about safety and they talk about the work schedule for the day. The foreman of the job gives the heavy equipment operators a task to do….and quite often the operators do the same thing day after day. If you work on a busy construction site…chances are you’ll be bounced around from project to project.

Almost all construction companies have a safety officer on site at all times…usually after a certain number of employees they’re required to have one on site. The safety guy requires you to keep a log of your heavy equipment…that means you’ve inspected your equipment before you started it and logged the results in a book provided by the employer. All heavy equipment operators are responsible for the equipment they operate…you will inspect the machine you operate and make sure it’s safe to operate.

If for some reason you find something that needs to be fixed before you operate that machine…you can lock the machine out. Most safety officers will have a lockout tag that you tie to the key switch or the master switch…signed by you……nobody but you can remove that tag. Nobody removes the tag until the machine is fixed for safe operation.

Safety and heavy equipment

We’re going to back up a little here…just after the toolbox meeting and just before you inspected your equipment. As you walk toward the equipment you’re going to operate, you’re doing a visual inspection. Is the machine in the same place you left it the night before? If not….you need to be a bit more observant. If someone else operated that machine after you….it’s possible they caused damage or a safety issue and haven’t told anyone. Trust me….it happens. As you get closer to the machine… look for oil leaks under the machine or near the hydraulic cylinders. Do a walk around the machine….look at everything….look for anything that might be loose…..a bolt or a shield.

Other safety issues will include……the glass or the windshield…is it broke or shattered? Make sure the top hatch is removable just in case you need to exit the machine out through the roof. A dirty cab is always a concern….keep the floor clean….keep the windows clean…..especially the windshield. Is the seatbelt in place? Some construction sites require the operator to wear the seatbelt for obvious reasons.

For your own benefit…climb into the cab and make yourself comfortable in the seat…adjust the seat so you’re comfortable. Are you wearing your own personal protective equipment? Must have steel toe work boots, hard hat, safety vest and safety glasses…carry hearing protection in your pocket at all times. Some safety equipment does not meet the code on some construction sites….ask the safety officer for help before you purchase your PPE. All heavy equipment should be equipped with no less than a 25 pound fire extinguisher….installed for easy access in case of fire. When you do your morning walk around….check to make sure the fire extinguisher is fully charged.