According to industry statistics, each year, during road construction alone, over 20,000 workers are injured in work zones. An additional one hundred are fatalities. These are often a result of rollovers, back overs, collisions, or fires.
Out of all these heavy equipment incidents, 35% are the result of contact with equipment. Many of these incidents could have been avoided by following simple safety measures.
The number of reported injuries involving heavy equipment is on the rise. In an effort to decrease incidents involving the operation of heavy equipment, here are some tips to help guide
- Avoid Blind Spots: It is crucial that heavy equipment operators know for certain that there is no one and nothing behind them before they back up. To avoid blind spots, the operator must sometimes physically get out of his machine and go to the back to look. Mirrors do not always provide a 360-degree breadth of vision. The short time it takes to hop off the machine and look may save a life.
- Maintain Constant Communication: It is vital that operators of heavy equipment maintain ongoing communication with each other, the ground crew, and their supervisors.
- Wear Seat Belts: In every vehicle, it is important to wear seat belts. This holds as true for heavy equipment as it does for cars and trucks. If the vehicle rolls, wearing a seat belt keeps the operator from being thrown from it. Seat belts save lives. Employers must provide appropriate seat belts in heavy equipment as part of the regulations for worker protective gear (the importance of seat belt can’t be over emphasise).Employee failure to use seat belts can result in the employer’s receiving a citation from OSHA because the employee is in violation of OSHA 29 C.F.R. 1926.602.
- Use the Three-Point Rule for Mounting and Dismounting: More than a handful of operators have been hurt or killed due to the careless mounting or dismounting of heavy equipment. Do not jump off or onto heavy equipment. Maintain three-point contact: use two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand to mount or dismount safely
- Load and Unload Safely: Before loading or unloading, make sure your heavy equipment is sitting on level ground. This reduces the chances of the vehicle rolling or sliding. Have someone act as a spotter to make sure people are standing away from your loading or unloading area.
- Do a Pre-Work Check for Hazards: Before beginning work on a site, conduct a visual check for overhead and underground dangers, such as cables, gas lines, and hydro wires. These should all be flagged for identification. Dig with a shovel when underground obstructions are close. Wherever holes are made, set up barriers to avoid workers or visitors to the work site inadvertently falling into them.