Operating heavy equipment can be a dangerous job. Heavy equipment can cause injuries not only to the operator but other people present around the area of operation. According to a report on the United States Department of Labour, 5,250 employees died on the job because of work-related injuries in 2018. Therefore, it’s imperative to maintain safety procedures and protocols while dealing with heavy equipment at the workplace. Let us explore safety guidelines to keep in mind while operating heavy equipment.
- Have an incident management plan in place
This tip is for the management as it’s important for dealing with the consequences of safety hazards of heavy equipment. One can never predict when an accident will occur at the workplace. Therefore, an incident management plan is necessary so that you can identify, analyse, and correct any hazards to avoid future recurrence. This allows you to fix distraction and can get help for your workers immediately an accident occurs.
- Training for operators
One of the best ways to prevent accidents and injuries is to thoroughly train the employees operating heavy equipment. The operator is the primary person who can cause or prevent injury to herself or others. Furthermore, make sure to train the operators on some essential mechanical aspects. This is so that they can identify any issues with the equipment and get it fixed before it causes an accident.
- Provide personal protective equipment
Many a times, workers start working with the equipment casually without putting on their personal protective equipment. The management should ensure that this never happens. Providing protective equipment to workers greatly minimises injuries when operating heavy equipment. Basic protective equipment includes eye protection, helmets, gloves, steel-toed safety boots and metal fibre or plastic metatarsal guards.
- Exercise caution when entering and exiting
While mounting and dismounting with care might sound redundant, falling is the most common cause of workplace death in America. It’s essential that you exercise caution when getting in and out of heavy equipment such as forklifts. It is advisable to maintain three points of contact with the machine at all times. Watch out for the condition of the steps and handholds. Repair or replace them if necessary. They could cause or prevent you or someone else from taking a potentially fatal fall. Ensure you have a good grip and use hand holes while mounting/dismounting. Moreover, do not carry unnecessary equipment into the cab, and do not dismount while the machine is moving.
- Be aware of setting
In addition to inspect the equipment, it’s also important to observe the conditions of the job-site. Check for any obstacles or hazards in the area that might impact operation. These can include overhead wires, other equipment or underground structures. Additionally, environmental factors can also change the preparation that needs to be done before starting up heavy equipment. For example, snow and ice can make it difficult to operate heavy equipment. In these cases, you will have to take steps in preparing the machine or delay the work until conditions are better.
Safety should be the priority of employers and employees. It has short-term and long-term implications on the organisation and the workers both. Follow these steps while using heavy equipment to ensure safety at the workplace.