Almost all building projects require heavy machinery. Unfortunately, if not utilized correctly, they can be very harmful. When operating on or close to heavy machinery, workers frequently get injuries from rollovers, collisions, and being stuck in or between incidents. When operating heavy equipment on a construction site, use the following safety steps to remain productive and assist in preventing accidents. Establish an equipment operator training Workers should receive training on how to operate every piece of equipment they will use safely. Training should consist of both classroom learning and real-world application. You should cover safety, hazard identification, equipment safety features, and safe operation of heavy machinery. Additionally, workers should receive training on safe mounting and dismounting techniques and how to start each piece of equipment properly. They should also be fully aware of the lifting and load capacities of the machinery they will be using. Assign spotters Each piece of large construction equipment should have a spotter assigned to it. Since the majority of heavy equipment has blind spots, they act as the operator's eyes and ears while they are at work. Certain safety precautions and training guidelines must be followed with each piece of equipment. Every spotter should ideally be qualified to operate the equipment they are spotting for and have the hands-on expertise to help them identify any blind spots or other issues. For instance, the crane spotter should be able to establish and enforce crane signals, keep an eye out for any danger, and continuously communicate with the crane operator. Inspect equipment before use Before each use, visually check heavy equipment to be sure it's in good working order. Examine the tracks and tires for wear and damage. Before turning on the equipment for the first time that day, check the fluid levels, including those for the engine oil, hydraulic fluid, and oil. Check for cracks and damage on hydraulic hoses, buckets, booms, and other parts. Ensure that every attachment is firmly fastened into place. Finally, ensure that the equipment's lights, backup alarms, gauges, and horns are all in working order before starting it up. Communicate effectively on your job site When using heavy machinery, communication is essential to ensure that your heavy equipment can be operated safely and that mishaps or violations of safety regulations cause no delays. Keep lines of communication open, so everyone in the vicinity can be aware whenever a vehicle is in use. Purchasing walkie-talkies, two-way radios, or any other effective system is an investment that will pay off. When you provide your team with the necessary information, they can warn others and avoid hazardous areas. Lastly, don’t forget to create detailed, explicit safety rules, policies, and guidelines and spell out the consequences for breaking them. Be aware of your surroundings You must be aware of the environment you are working in and any potential barriers when using heavy equipment. For example, to avoid coming into contact with overhead electrical lines, you should de-energize them, or if that’s not possible, you should put barriers in place. In addition, to avoid damaging subsurface facilities, causing delays, and adding to the workload when digging, ensure that all utilities, including sewer, water, gas, and electricity, have been identified and correctly labeled. Workers should, whenever possible, avoid locations where large machinery is used. In addition, operators should be aware of the swing radius, especially when working in smaller spaces, to prevent running into other workers, bystanders, nearby cars, or other machinery or equipment. Ensure that the equipment is only used as intended Each piece of machinery was created to carry out a particular function. Excavators aren't cranes, and wheel loaders weren't designed to be utilized as an aerial lift or to carry workers in the bucket. Choose the appropriate tool for the job, then use it as the manufacturer intended. Equipment should not be overworked or loaded. Pay attention to the equipment's lift or payload capabilities. If you already have what you need, purchase a larger piece of equipment. All riggings are securely fastened if you are lifting material. When operating machinery, especially on slopes, try to go slowly. Image source: Ade Adebowale/unsplash.com Final thoughts Regardless of its use or function, heavy machinery is always a potential hazard. With careful preparation and attention to essential aspects of worksite safety, you may reduce the risks. There will always be room to improve safety rules. The best way to stay on top of ever-changing challenges is to consistently develop innovative ideas for improving the safety culture at your company. 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