Heavy construction equipment and machinery are necessary staples for the oil and gas industry. As with any work equipment, safe work practices go a long way toward not only keeping their operators safe, but also keeping the machinery itself working properly. Safety measures will benefit both parties in the long run.
There are several safety rules for heavy equipment operators to observe every day on the job. Though some may seem more obvious or less important than others, the truth is that handling heavy equipment is a dangerous job. The only way to guarantee your safety is to observe the proper precautions in your work.
Stay Aware of Your Surroundings
Try to work on a level surface, especially if you’re loading or unloading heavy equipment. Set up a barrier if you can to keep the area clear of pedestrians and other equipment. But most importantly, eliminate or avoid critical hazards such as electrical lines. Deenergize overhead power lines or at least set up clear borders around them to avoid. Have an inspector clearly mark any buried power cables or pipes so you know where to avoid digging. Don’t take any chances.
Before Using the Equipment
Drivers, especially new drivers, are cautioned to check behind their car tires and watch for warning lights every time they turn on their car. Likewise, construction equipment requires a brief visual inspection before each usage. To inspect the equipment, walk around your machine, remove any obstacles, and note any problems that need to be addressed before you can get started. Check the oil levels, hydraulic hoses, and any other critical systems before getting in.
Once you’ve turned on the machine, check for any new warning lights and make sure all the moving parts (buckets, scoops, rotation, etc.) are working as they should be. If anything out of the ordinary catches your attention, don’t use the machine until the problem is resolved. Ignoring the problem can damage the equipment even further and result in a massive safety hazard for you and others.
Pro Tip: Keep yourself and your employees properly trained on how to safely operate your heavy equipment. In particular, make sure everyone knows how to identify a severe problem with the machines.
While Using the Equipment
It may seem unnecessary to highlight the proper way to get in or out of heavy equipment, but this is one area where you or your employees can accidentally get hurt before the machine is even turned on. As you climb in or out, maintain three points of contact with the machine, like you would on a ladder. And definitely don’t jump out of the machine when you’re finished!
Additionally, don’t use the equipment for something it was never designed to do. Don’t use an excavator bucket as a lift, for instance, and especially don’t overload the machines. Different functions and mechanical limitations are there for a reason. Never try to use the wrong equipment for the job.
Finally, those seat belts aren’t there to just fulfill safety codes. Always buckle up when you drive a piece of heavy equipment
Protecting Yourself and Your Employees
Heavy equipment, while incredibly useful when operated correctly, can also become a massive safety hazard if not properly maintained or handled. The best route to heavy equipment safety is ultimately education. Stay aware of any and all potential hazards, and make sure your employees and anyone else using the equipment has the same training. The more knowledgeable everyone is on how to properly handle the equipment, the less likely accidents will be.
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