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Top 10 Safety Tips for Heavy Equipment Operators

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Are you a heavy equipment operator? Do you frequent work and construction sites? It's crucial that you know how to keep yourself and others safe on the job.

There are some scary statistics about construction site injuries out there. In fact, construction workers account for only four percent of the workforce, but they experience 21 percent of workplace injuries every year.

We don't know the details of these injuries, but many of them were preventable with the proper attention to safety on the site. How can you make sure your work site is a safer environment? Keep reading to find out.

Safety Tips for a Heavy Equipment Operator

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the "fatal four" of construction accidents include workers falling, electrocution, getting caught between objects, and being struck by an object.

Accidents happen, but there are steps you can take to be proactive and prevent injuries. Here are our ten best tips for a heavy equipment operator, or anyone on a work site.

1. Have Open Communication

Communication is key on any work site, especially if there is heavy equipment around. Make sure everyone on the site knows what is happening and when to reduce the likelihood that someone will be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A two-way radio is great to communicate with your team, especially if you can't see them. Work sites are loud, so don't assume that you'll be able to hear everyone at all times. Use a radio and double-check your surroundings before operating heavy equipment.

2. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Like our first point, take initiative and know who is around you when you're operating heavy machinery. Don't trust that someone else will know to get out of the way.

Double-check your surroundings before operating machinery. It's also important to keep an eye out for yourself. For example, if you're driving a piece of equipment, make sure your path is clear before operation. Anticipating hazards before they happen is the best way to prevent serious injury.

3. Watch Load Limits

Always know the limits of the equipment that you're operating, and carry under the load limits. Don't push your equipment past what it's capable of.

There's a lot of pressure on construction workers to move faster, but this can lead to more accidents. Never carry a heavier load than what your machine is capable of. Finishing your project quicker isn't worth the lives of you and your fellow workers.

4. Wear a Seat Belt and Proper Safety Equipment

Everyone knows to wear a seat belt when you're driving a car, but the same rules apply to those operating heavy machines as well. Always wear your seat belt, even if you're only operating the equipment for a few minutes. Accidents can happen in seconds, and you want to make sure you aren't thrown off or fall off the equipment.

Also, make sure you're always wearing other proper safety equipment when you're on site. The law and companies require that you keep your hard hat and boots on when you're near machinery. Even taking them off for a second could put you at a serious risk of injury.

5. Watch Your Step

Mounting and dismounting equipment can be deadly. As we mentioned earlier, falls and missteps are some of the leading causes of injury on work sites. Always watch your step when you're on a work site, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Don't push yourself to climb higher than necessary or work in a space that feels like you could fall from.

6. Double Check Equipment is Turned Off

This one might seem obvious, but a lot of unexpected things can happen on a worksite due to workers not paying attention. When you stop using equipment, always ensure that it's powered off, not idling or still running. The last thing you want is for equipment to roll away and injure yourself or another worker because you left it running.

7. Beware of What's Underground

If you're operating digging or drilling equipment, make sure that you know the area is completely clear of underground hazards.

Before you start digging, contact the local utility notification center (typically 811). This number will help you identify any underground utility lines, such as sewer, water, cable, electricity and more. These items can cause deadly accidents if you dig into them, so never start a project until you know what you're digging into.q8

8. Perform Routine Inspections

You're required by law to pass routine inspections, but you should also perform inspections daily. Before you operate your machine, have a custom safety check in place. Don't assume that because something was running yesterday it's good to go today. Don't forget to create a daily, weekly, and monthly inspection plan. Some parts, like air filters, only need a monthly inspection.

9. Watch Overhead

If your equipment is tall, always check to make sure that your path of operation is free of overhead hazards. Power lines, metal rods and other overhead items can turn deadly if your machine runs into them.

10. Don't Overwork Yourself

Like you should always know the limits of your equipment, make sure you know your own physical limits as well. Never put yourself in a situation where you don't feel comfortable. If you don't think you can do something, notify your supervisor that you don't think you're capable of doing the work.

It's great to be hardworking, but someone who is too daring or overworked can cause a serious threat to themselves and their coworkers.

Want to Learn More?

If you're a heavy equipment operator, you know that maintenance is key to making sure it's in safe working condition at all times. This means cleaning your air filters to improve performance on all your equipment.

Check out the rest of our blog for more tips on how to keep your equipment running. Don't forget to check out the original and patented air filter blaster! Our portable unit keeps diesel engines clean and employees safe.

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