7 Ways to Safeguard against Potential Hazards while Operating Heavy Equipment (Guest Post)

 There are serious accident hazards that materialize due to inadequate precautions taken by either the operator of the earth moving machine, the excavator or site personnel while moving along an excavation site. Fatalities caused by caught in- or -between hazards are serious concerns and can be avoided with proper training and by implementing precautionary measures. When choosing earth moving operators in Brisbane or elsewhere, make sure you are taking care of following safety measures. 

1. Enlist potential hazards and bring it to the notice of all site personnel

The risk of a potential hazard can be significantly curtailed by adequately educating site personnel and the earth moving machine operator about potential hazards that can take place at the excavation site. A certified HSE person should inspect the excavation site to enlist the potential hazards and to make sure that all those who are potentially prone to the hazards are fully aware about those. 

2. Keep safe distance from the operating radius of earth moving equipment

The earth moving machine operator may not be able to notice if you are standing very close to the earth moving machine. Hence it is recommended that site personnel should keep safe distance from the machine. In case they need to get across, they should make sure the machine operator is fully aware of their presence. You can alert the earth moving machine operator by waving hands and signaling him that you need to cross.  (Wearing high visibility vests and other personal protective equipment is necessary.)

3. Avoid wearing loose clothing

The earth moving equipment has unguarded moving parts like belt, pulley and if you are wearing loose clothes you run the risk of your clothes getting stuck in them. The consequences can be life threatening. Hence the clothes you wear should properly fit to your body. While carrying out maintenance, the machine operator should ensure that the moving parts are either de-energized or properly guarded. 

4. Beware of working in unprotected trenches

While working in unprotected trenches, workers run the risk of cave-ins which can cause suffocation or even crush the person. To prevent such accidents, the personnel should avoid working in unprotected trenches which are 5 feet deep or more. 

If working in a deeper trench, be sure that the trench has a sloping at a safe angle, which prevents it from collapsing. If there is no sloping, a trench box should be used, which will protect the worker from cave-ins. The sides of the trench can also be shored using a wooden structure, which will also prevent a cave in. 

5. Beware of being pinned down between a stationary object and the earth moving machine   

To avoid being pinned down between the earth moving equipment and a stationary object, make sure that you are never working between a stationary immovable structure like a tree or a wall and the earth moving machine. In some cases, if the load carried by the earth moving equipment is not stable or secured, you run the risk of being hit by a falling load. 

6. Use of barricades and warning systems while using earth moving equipment along excavation or trench

Using earth moving equipment close to a trench or an excavation site could be hazardous. A barricade or a warning system should be installed at a safe distance from the edges of the excavation site, so that the operator who may not be able to see the edges is alerted with a sound or by way of hand signaling. In case the earth moving equipment needs to work straight over the opening of the trench, then workers should not be working in the trench. 

7. Wear seat belts to avoid being crushed during tip-over

The ideal way to protect machine operators from being crushed due to a tip over is to avoid the situation in the first place. Overloading is one of the most common causes of tip over and it should be completely avoided. If a tip over still happens, the operator can still hope to be protected, if he wears a seat belt. Wearing a seat belt would ensure that the worker is not thrown out when a tip over of the equipment or vehicle occurs. 

We hope that you will follow all these safety tips. Remember: just knowing what to do is not enough – you have to avoid being careless and follow all the rules and regulations to minimize risks.

Our thanks to Billie Wilder for sending this important message. pb

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