Whether you operate giant tower cranes, earth moving equipment, or indoor heavy machinery, the two things they have in common are their enormous size and formidable power. To anyone working around or with them, their potential for causing injury or death are obvious. The types of accidents possible are as varied as the machines themselves. However, there are some general safety practices that apply to all of them. Here are six:
- Know your equipment. You and/or your people must have training in its operation. This includes knowing its limits in terms of the loads it will lift, carry, or push. Be aware of its stability limitations. Many heavy equipment accidents are caused by a rollover on sloped ground.
- Stay alert. Do not allow distraction, fatigue, or complacency to ever dull your focus. Pay attention to what you are doing, to your machine, and maintain an awareness of the workers whose safety is affected by your machine.
- Communicate effectively. A simple misunderstanding of your intentions by the workers around you is all it takes for someone to get killed. Never assume that someone knows what you will do next even if both of you have done the routine for years. Make your intentions clear to those affected each and every time you perform an operation.
- Do not rush. No matter the pressure for finishing the job, stick to your normal operating pace. There is no room for error in your line of work.
- Know how to safely enter and exit your machine. These often require some climbing. Securely place hands and feet on rungs or holds while climbing. Never make long reaches, never carry objects in your hands, and use three-point contact at all times. Three-point contact means always having three of your four limbs securely holding you in place as you climb up or down. Make sure your machine is in a safe location where a rollover is not possible. Do not exit until you have turned it off and all motion of its parts have stopped.
- Wear your seat belt. Your seat belt holds you securely in place at the controls, and prevents you from falling off in case of a rollover.