Heavy machinery is utilized on almost all construction projects in the United States. Heavy construction equipment is required to build and maintain the nation’s infrastructure, from massive road projects to residential homebuilding, and remaining safe when working with heavy machinery is critical.
Working with or around big construction equipment instills a healthy respect for what these enormous machines are capable of. You need to know what your equipment can do, whether you’re working with a huge excavator on a commercial construction site, a grader in the road building sector, or a skid steer on a domestic restoration project. That includes the things it can do to you.
When operated incorrectly, heavy construction equipment can be deadly, but most employees go about their regular tasks without getting hurt. This is because they are aware of the risks connected with equipment operating and take precautions to avoid mishaps. The necessity of heavy machinery safety is well understood by these savvy operators and assistance.
The importance of heavy equipment safety cannot be overstated. The construction sector is one of the most dangerous industries in America, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). According to OSHA figures, 4,693 workers were killed on the job in 2016. On construction sites, 21.1 percent of those deceased, or 991 workers, were killed. One out of every five construction workers in the United States perished as a result of an accident while on the job.
Construction workers die and are injured for four main reasons, according to OSHA. These are known as the “fatal four” because they account for two-thirds of all fatal accidents, according to OSHA. According to OSHA, removing the fatal four unintentional causes would save the lives of around 631 American employees each year. The following are the four deadly accident causes:
Falls accounted for 38.7% of worker deaths, with falls from a height or from construction equipment accounting for the rest.
Struck by an Object: 9.4% of construction workers died as a result of being struck by an object on the job.
Electrocutions: 8.3 percent of construction worker deaths were caused by being accidentally electrified by electricity.
OSHA inspections have revealed that almost all accidents involving heavy equipment operation might have been avoided. OSHA, in collaboration with state and local partners, shifted its focus from enforcement-based safety to educational support. American worker fatalities have decreased from 38 per day in 1970 to 14 per day in 2016, thanks to the combined efforts of government regulators and private entities like companies, unions, and safety experts.
Clearly, heavy equipment safety was a priority for everyone in the construction sector. They also resolved to act and improve working conditions on building sites. Workers were educated and given thorough safety instructions as part of this. One of the most significant goals was to remove, mitigate, and lessen hazards for people who work with heavy machinery.
While falls and electrocutions are the most common construction-site injuries, being struck by objects and caught between mechanical components and materials is more common in heavy machine operations than in typical site conditions. Mitigating potentially unsafe conditions and making all personnel aware of their status are vital to preventing or minimizing equipment-related injuries.
Workers’ attention and knowledge of their job site surroundings are referred to as situational awareness. For defining and recognizing Jobsite dangers, there are three main concepts to follow. It is crucial that all workers are aware of the following hazard categories:
There are moving parts in all heavy construction equipment. The threat comes from the energy stored in machinery parts and the ability to release it. Most machines are relatively stable and safe when not in use. They have great power and the ability to cause serious damage while they’re operational.
When working around equipment, keep an eye out for moving parts that could cause injury. Machinery and equipment that can release debris and hit someone can also be hazardous. Rotating shafts, colliding surfaces, scissor or shear action, sharp edges, and detachable connections are all common mechanical risks. Entanglement, crushing, severing, cutting, and puncturing are all mechanical risks, as are slips and falls when dodging moving components.
Hazards that aren’t mechanical
Components in motion are not the only source of heavy equipment risks. Almost every machine has a reserve of energy that is waiting to be released. Gases or fluids under pressure, electrical charges, and hot surfaces are all examples. Non-mechanical dangers to workers include unpleasant chemicals such as exhaust emissions and chemical by-products. Consider the noise pollution that heavy machinery operations cause.
Workers that are situationally aware always check their machinery for non-mechanical hazards. They are aware of how heavy machinery impacts the surrounding region or environment. Non-mechanical risks include:
Environments that are explosive or flammable
High-intensity light, such as lasers or welding arc flashes, radiates and conducts heat.
Lead, mercury, and cadmium are examples of heavy metals.
Releases on Steam
Microwaves and X-rays are examples of ionizing radiation.
Burns, lung damage and long-term elevated risk of cancer-related disorders are among the health dangers posed by non-mechanical hazards.
3. Dangers of Access
Because workers have unsafe access around machinery paths, many industrial injuries and deaths occur. Workers become accidentally imprisoned and exposed to mechanical and non-mechanical hazards when they do not have safe access to and from a specific spot. Proper design, putting in protections, and boosting workers’ situational awareness can help them avoid being stuck between harmful components or struck by objects.
Consider who is allowed into a hazardous place or scenario, as well as what equipment and materials are in use when it comes to reducing access dangers. Rather than reacting to an unanticipated scenario, access control must be anticipated and prepared ahead of time. The most effective way to reduce access-related accidents is to adequately communicate all information about mechanical and non-mechanical heavy equipment hazards.
Hazard mitigation entails a set of instructions for dealing with potentially risky events. Hazards should be avoided if at all possible, or at the very least replaced with something less harmful. If this isn’t achievable, risk controls must be implemented to prevent or limit the risk of harm or injury. Workplace health and safety standards require that workplace risks and risk controls be communicated. Hazard communications must be used in the “highest order” according to the law.
High-order risk controls send out safety warnings right away. Non-mistakable signage that clearly indicates existing hazards and prescribes safe procedures for personnel exposed to them are examples of high-order communication.
Lower-order hazard controls explain the safety precautions that workers must take when working near potentially risky equipment. A lower-level communication approach is prescribing the appropriate personal protective equipment. Specifying safe workplace actions such as de-energizing equipment and shutting out activation devices is also important.
The hazard communication order chain includes administrative controls. Standard operating procedures and full instructions for safe operation and exposure reduction are included (SOPs). Another successful method of administrative control for accident prevention is verbal communication, such as toolbox meetings.
Many organizations employ administrative controls to disseminate safety information to employees. Effective safety procedures include personnel at all levels, from equipment operators to those who work in their immediate vicinity. Situational awareness is improved by giving safety guidelines and emphasizing the necessity of heavy equipment safety. The risk of becoming a fatal four statistic substantially decreases after that.
It is everyone’s responsibility to stay safe when working with large machinery. Sharing knowledge about construction equipment safety guidelines is also important. The greatest firms with the finest safety records have a corporate culture that emphasizes safety as a core value. They’ve created a reputation for safety through a behavioral-based strategy that encourages employees to commit to safety rather than simply comply with legislation.
Safety-conscious cultures encourage all employees to recognize potential hazards and work together to eliminate them. They make all workplace hazards known and educate workers about the dangers of construction machinery.
Identifying and controlling job site dangers is a continuous activity. As work advances, situations on the job site frequently change, and it’s critical to communicate changing conditions. However, there are many instances where workers are exposed to the same hazards on a daily basis. Here are some tried-and-true safety recommendations for anyone working with big machinery:
Keep yourself out of the line of fire. This is a top-of-the-line safety recommendation. Every location around a piece of heavy equipment where a worker could get caught in-between or hit by a mobile object is referred to as the line-of-fire. Both the operator and the ground worker are involved in enforcing the line-of-fire regulation. There must be clear communication between the machine operator and the workers surrounding them about what they want to perform.
Make eye contact with the other person. It is vital to maintain eye contact with a heavy equipment operator for safety reasons. It is ensured that both the operator and the surrounding workers are aware of each other by making eye contact. This prevents a machine or material from being swung at a stationary worker who might approach the line of fire.
Make good use of communication signals. Radio communication between machine operators and support employees is common on construction sites. Knowing what others are doing and communicating changes in operation is critical for safety, and there is no better method to do so than through vocal communication. Radios, on the other hand, are not infallible. Hand signals that are clearly presented and understood are fail-safe communication methods.
Have spotters on hand. Spotters are used by many construction equipment operators, including those who operate excavators, delivery trucks, and cranes. There are blind areas on every machine when the operator is visually challenged. Using a ground spotter is a high-value insurance policy against moving equipment or materials into potentially unsafe positions by accident.
Determine a hazard zone and mark it. Hazards are efficiently communicated to anyone near construction equipment by marking a danger zone. The danger zone is defined as the area where the line of fire begins and ends. Barriers, fencing, or caution tape can easily be used to demarcate the risk zone. It’s also effective to use simple signs that clearly explain the safety boundaries.
Make sure you’re aware of the situation. This is an important safety tip that cannot be overstated. Everyone on a construction site must be situationally aware of their surroundings. Overhead and subsurface risks are two of the most dangerous sources of injury. Power lines struck by booms or high dump boxes are examples of this. Electrical or gas lines can also be buried. It is possible to save lives by being aware of the circumstance.
Keep your eyes and concentration on the task at hand. For your own safety, you must remain vigilant. Workers who keep their eyes and minds focused on the task at hand are significantly less likely to cause or be involved in an accident. Fatigue, complacency, frustration, and hurrying are all common causes of inattentiveness. Distractions like these, according to safety experts, can account for 95 percent of contributing variables in construction site accidents. Despite the fact that workers were aware of the threats, they did not consider or see them.
Identify the equipment zone’s entrances and exits. Equipment zones should have a specific entrance and entry, and those zones should have a clear and safe path that prevents operator blind spots. It must also be devoid of hazards that cause people to slip, trip, or fall. Those zones should be clearly delineated and strictly enforced.
Maintain three-point contact at all times. Getting on and off heavy equipment is similarly governed by entry and exit zones. On an ingress/egress ladder or stairs, a worker must always have three points of contact according to the safety industry standard known as “three-point contact.” Both feet or both hands are contacting a step, rung, or handrail at any same time. This provides excellent grip and stability.
Inspections of equipment should be done on a regular basis. It is the obligation of every heavy equipment operator to inspect their machine on a regular basis. There should always be a pre-start walk around where evident flaws are identified and corrected before they become dangerous concerns. It’s also a good idea for anyone working near machinery to keep an eye out for issues like loose attachments, worn parts, and foreign items caught in components.
Maintain your vehicle on a regular basis. Equipment that is well-maintained is safe equipment. Maintenance should be performed on all machines on a regular, scheduled basis. Hourly interventions, seasonal changes, or mileage maintenance programs are examples. Preventive maintenance is an important aspect of overall safety performance, and it should never be put off until a machine breaks down and someone is injured.
Provide instruction. Having properly trained equipment operators considerably minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries. Operators must be trained on the individual machine they are operating and be aware of the equipment’s limitations. That way, there’s less of a possibility of it overextending its capabilities and rolling over or colliding with others.
Formalize certification procedures. Training a heavy equipment operator is one thing. It’s another matter to ensure that they’ve retained the information and are qualified to function. An operator’s certification assures that they can safely operate the machines they’ve been assigned. In the event of an incident and investigation, certification also protects a corporation by demonstrating operator training.
Use equipment exclusively for what it was designed for. Heavy machinery should only be utilized for what it was designed for. Machines are made to perform specified tasks and not to perform other tasks. Skid steer buckets, for example, aren’t designed to transport people. Excavators aren’t designed to be used as aerial man lifts. When you utilize a suitable machine for the job, your chances of getting hurt are considerably reduced.
Ensure that you are familiar with the operator’s manual. Ensure that everyone involved with a piece of heavy equipment is familiar with the operator manual. Manufacturers go to great lengths to detail safety precautions in order to assist prevent mishaps with their equipment. Safety information and advice can be found in manuals. A few minutes spent reading the operator manual may teach you some unexpected safety lessons.
Ascertain that personal protection equipment is worn. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is required at every professional worksite across the country. Some personal protective equipment (PPE) is required by law. Some are specific to a particular location or piece of equipment. Noise, dust, and heat are immediate safety concerns when working with large machinery. Personal health and safety are greatly improved by proper hearing, breathing, and thermal protection.
Don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt. The use of a seat belt is not limited to highway vehicles. When operating equipment, always use the seat belt or harness that was installed by the manufacturer. In the case of a rollover or side tipping, the operator is restrained by seat belts. It is absolutely avoidable to be ejected by a machine and crushed on impact by merely wearing a seat belt.
When feasible, de-energize energy sources. Those operating on or around big machines face substantial dangers from energized sources. Before maintaining or repairing energy sources, it’s critical to de-energize them. An exposed and unprotected worker can be electrocuted, blasted, or scalded in an instant by electrical energy, hydraulic pressure, or trapped heat. If deactivating an energy source isn’t practicable, the activation device must be locked out and tagged to alert other personnel to the danger.
When it comes to fueling, use caution and follow the right measures. When it comes to feeding a machine, there are numerous dangers. Dangers to workers and the environment are included. Always fuel big machinery in a controlled environment. This might happen at a dedicated fueling station equipped with ignition sources and spill containment systems. Also, never employ a device to prevent a fuel delivery nozzle from opening.
Make sure you’re braking and blocking properly. Always keep an eye on a parked vehicle. Applying the parking brake on a scraper or grader, for example, depends on the equipment type. It could be lowering a blade or bucket on a dozer or loader, or chocking the wheels on a skid steer with rubber tires. It is critical, regardless of the machine, to ensure that it does not move unless an operator commands it to.
There are dozens of various types of heavy machinery and hundreds of different types of equipment. The majority of the safety advice is applicable to all machine activities, however, some are more relevant to certain equipment than others. Quirks surrounding specific equipment pieces will be familiar to well-trained operators. Safety recommendations for specialized machinery are useful for persons who are not officially trained but nevertheless work with construction equipment. Here are some of the most frequent construction machines, as well as some further advice:
Excavators are employed in almost every construction project. The majority of construction excavators have rubber tires, although others have tracks. Excavators come in a wide range of sizes, from small machines for confined spaces to massive machines capable of moving hundreds of yards of material per bucket. When operating or working near an excavator, keep the following in mind:
On construction sites, motor graders are widespread, especially where road construction and clearing operations are taking place. For smoothing, beveling, and angling finished grades, no equipment can substitute for a grader. Motor graders, on the other hand, can be dangerous if not used properly. Here are a few pointers for graders:
Keep an eye on the width of the blade in relation to obstacles and barriers.
Know how to adjust the steering frame lock-links and the wheel lean lock bolts.
Be aware that overheating grader tires might explode violently.
Bulldozers are powerful earthmovers that are ideal for moving large amounts of debris around construction projects. Bulldozers, like all heavy machinery, have their quirks. The following are some bulldozer safety tips:
On hills, always work up and down, avoiding cross slope operations.
When traveling, keep the blade at least 15 inches above ground level.
To avoid spearing, be cautious when working in areas where trees have been knocked down.
Compactors are available in a variety of configurations. Regular soil compactors, pneumatic rollers, tandem vibratory rollers, and landfill compactors are some of the options. Nothing beats a motorized compactor for compacting materials for foundation and roadbed construction. When operating with or near compactors, keep the following in mind:
Before using the equipment, walk around it to check for any existing damage, leaks, or looseness.
When compacting in congested places where vision is limited, use a spotter.
Always use suitable handholds when exiting a compactor and never jump from the ladder.
With Holt of California, you’ll be safe.
Holt of California is a Cat® Equipment dealer who belongs to an exclusive group. We provide a large assortment of new, used, and rental construction equipment, as well as a large selection of Cat heavy equipment to meet your needs.
Holt places a premium on safe equipment operation. A Safety Leadership Assessment is part of our customer service, and it rates industry leaders on four essential skills: trust, accountability, connectivity, and believable consciousness. Another excellent service we provide is Caterpillar Equipment Training Solutions.
Please feel free to look around our website to see what Holt construction equipment we have available. Call Holt of California today at 800–452–5888 for superior heavy equipment and safe workplace operations. You can also use our online contact form to get in touch with us.
Source : ConstructionEquipment
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