Working safely near construction equipment
If you’re working on a jobsite that will require the use of heavy construction equipment you will be exposed to a new level of danger. To protect yourself, and prevent accidents and potential loss of life, be alert and follow these important safety tips.
- Always be aware of where the construction equipment is and which direction it is traveling.
- Stay out of the equipment’s blind spots. Make eye contact with the equipment operator before you approach the machine.
- Never stand near a working machine and don’t talk to an operator unnecessarily.
- Learn and use the standard hand signals related to communicate with the equipment operator.
- Stay off of ramps intended for heavy equipment.
- Avoid equipment unless you must go near it. Buckets and other attachments can move as hydraulic pressure releases, catching, crushing and/or cutting hands, fingers, arms and feet.
- Be aware of where other workers are and keep them out of the way of moving equipment.
- Never ride on equipment or allow others to. Falls from equipment can be deadly.
- Wear high-visibility vest, hardhat and other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
If you’re in charge of the job, you’re required to have a planned drive path before construction equipment comes on the site. Signage should be prominently displayed at any point along the path where workers, other equipment or pedestrians may be present. When planning the equipment route, try to minimize the need to back up the equipment – a primary cause of equipment-related accidents and fatalities. Check the route carefully for potential soft spots or proximity to excavations, which can result in a machine rolling over.[tip id=”6897″]
Keep the construction equipment route as far away from workers as possible so movement or rotation of equipment doesn’t trap workers against an adjacent surface or object. Assure there are no live power lines that can come in contact with the machine.
Alert equipment operators to the location of workers in the work zone. Use flaggers or spotters, who have been trained in proper hand signals, whenever construction equipment must move through areas where they could encounter workers or other machines.
Consult Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 1926 (available at www.osha.gov), or your local OSHA representative to be sure you understand OSHA guidelines and are prepared to maintain a safe, injury-free jobsite.
Operating construction equipment around workers
If you will be operating construction equipment on a jobsite where workers are on foot, take extra caution. Before you enter the site, check to be sure all lights, horns, back-up warning alarms, mirrors and other safety items are working. Know your machine’s blind spots. Be sure you understand the hand signals that will be used on the site.[tip id=”6899″]
Never give anyone on the construction job site a ride on your equipment, unless there is a second seat intended for passengers and it is equipped with safety restraints. Don’t operate equipment without proper roll-over protection, or protection against falling or shifting loads.
Always use a spotter or flagger when moving into proximity of workers or other equipment. Make eye contact with the spotter, and if the spotter moves out of your sight, stop the machine until you have re-established eye contact. If more than one spotter is signaling you, stop until you determine which one is watching your vehicle.
Engage the parking break whenever your vehicle is parked, and set chocks if the vehicle is parked on an incline. Blades, buckets, dump bodies, and other attachments should be lowered fully or blocked when equipment is parked.
—By Bruce Webb