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Heavy equipment is used on many kinds of work sites all around the world. This equipment is highly effective for the job it was designed to do, but it can also be very hazardous. Proper work planning as well as operating equipment within its designed limits are important basic steps for safe operation.

A few major hazards to be cautious of are:

  • Struck-by hazards- Heavy equipment is responsible for many injuries and fatalities in the workplace. Ground personnel are far too often struck by equipment when they are in the line of fire.
  • Property damage- When operators do not see vehicles, materials, objects, tools, buildings, etc. in their area of operation property damage occurs. These costs employers millions of dollars a year in losses.
  • Contact with powerlines- Equipment should stay at least 10 feet away from powerlines and poles. When voltage of the lines increases the distance to stay away from lines also needs to increase.
  • Leaks- Leaks can cause issues in the equipment as well as damage to the environment. Many project owners have an extremely strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to leaks.
  • Equipment failure- Hydraulic or other systems that fail can cause a major incident.

Best Practices Relating to Heavy Equipment Operation

  • All equipment should be inspected prior to use. Any problems found with equipment should be corrected before it is used.
  • Equipment should have seatbelts and a roll overprotective system to protect the operator in case of roll over or crash.
  • Work areas should be properly delineated, and enough space given to heavy equipment to operate properly. Clear out all unnecessary personnel, objects, and vehicles from where the equipment is operating.
  • Operators should complete a walk around of their equipment every time before getting back into the cab to be sure no objects, people, or vehicles are in a blind spot.
  • Proper training and fit-for-work. Employees need to be familiar with the equipment that they operate. Employees also need to ensure that they are not operating equipment if they are excessively fatigued or sick.

This is a small list of the many hazards that are present when dealing with heavy equipment on a work site. Consider what unique hazards the equipment and job tasks create on your work site. Constant focus on pre task planning as well as what safeguards are needed is important to remain safe while operating heavy equipment.

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