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Earth Moving Equipment Operation Safety Guide

Research has shown that the most important piece of safety equipment for heavy earth moving equipment is its operator. Unfortunately, even the best and most experienced drivers can have accidents. This is often because experienced drivers become overconfident. This can be a problem when equipment is hired out to contractors as many machines are similar, but not the same. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to ensure safety while using earth moving equipment.

Safety Starts Before the Machine is Started

Safety starts before a machine is started. If you are not familiar with the equipment that you will be using, the first thing you need to do is to get to know the controls. Part of our process is to talk you through the controls before you hire the equipment.

After this perform a walkaround inspection to make sure that the equipment looks in good order. This is sometimes referred to as a Daily Check or Pre-Start Check and will often involve putting the working parts of the machine through it’s paces before commencing the actual work.  After these safety checks have been completed, ensure your seat is in the correct position, put your seatbelt on and you’re ready to commence work.

Ensure You Have a Stable Digging Platform

There are two main reasons why some machinery have stabilizing features such as extendable tracks: they increase your stability when working over the side of the machine and they help minimise machine movement when you are working. One of  the keys to working safely is to make sure that you have a stable platform for machine operations such as lifting, drilling and excavation.

Digging Trenches Takes Preparation

We advise people to walk around a new site with someone who knows the site well before starting work. As trenches often cover a lot of ground, there is a greater risk of accidentally unearthing or damging under ground servies such as internet cables, water pipes and electrical cables.  Retrieving information from organisations like Dial Before You Dig is always a good idea.

Heavy Loads Need to Be Lifted Safely

Ensure that the equipment is as stable as possible before you attempt to lift heavy loads by spreading the stabilizers as far as possible. Even though earthmoving machinery has the ability to lift/carry heavy loads, it is important to keep within the safe operating guidelines detailed in the Operator’s Manual. Failure to do this can result in unexpected machine movement and even tip overs.  As a general rule, regardless of the weight, keep heavy loads as close to the equipment as possible and/or as low to the ground as possible.

Moving Materials Around Site

In the same way, when moving materials around the site, be very conscience of keeping your machine centre of gravity as low as possible. Again, keeping your load close and low will decrease your risk of untended movement or tip over and furthermore, will keep attachments from obstructing your forward vision.

Slopes Can be Challenging

No matter what type of construction vehicle you’re using whether it be a 1.7T Excavator or a Kanga Mini Loader, slopes presents huge challenges. When operating machinery on a hill, make sure you take the necessary precautions by consulting the Operator’s Manual for advice on the best approach. Take your time when going up or down a hill with a loaded bucket. The general rule of thumb is that you will need to make sure that load is always directed up the slope.  Sometimes this will mean reversing with a load.  Give very careful consideration to whether or not you actually need to move across a slope as this is generally discouraged due to a very high risk of a tip over event.

A Final Word of Caution

Other workers  are hands down, one of the biggest dangers when using earthmoving machinery.  Even though earthmoving machinery is large, have loud engines and often have movement alarms (beepers) on them, workers within you operation zone are at great risk of personal injury.   The best way to prevent this is to ensure that there are no workers within your vicinity while you are operating.

Remember, when operating machinery, safety must always come first!

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