Construction Site Safety Tips for Working Around Heavy Equipment

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Every construction site includes at least a few pieces of heavy equipment. While this machinery is essential to productivity on projects, it’s also one of the main sources of danger to workers in an around the equipment. In particular, it contributes to lots of caught-between/caught-in hazards and struck-by hazards. This is why it’s important that everyone—from top management to site supervisors to all crew members—be familiar with best practices and top safety tips for working around heavy equipment.

Below are some essential steps for keeping everyone on the job site safe around construction machinery. Management has a responsibility to instate policies that promote worker safety and provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for every crew member at every job site. On-site supervisors must be proactive in enforcing the rules, and workers must take responsibility for themselves and the well-being of their fellow crew members.

Promoting Worker Safety Around Construction Machinery

  • Make sure each piece of equipment’s operating manual is readily available
  • People should only operate machinery they’ve been fully trained to use
  • Training should combine classroom-style instruction and hands-on interactive instruction
  • Workers should be trained to identify and address potential hazards related to heavy equipment
  • All machine operators need training in proper mounting and dismounting of equipment, with emphasis on maintaining three points of contact
  • Never jump off or out of any heavy equipment
  • Don’t ever enter or exit a machine while it’s in operation
  • Always completely power down heavy equipment when ceasing operations, release pressure from hydraulic controls, and engage parking brakes
  • Training should also cover load capacities, swing radius, and other aspects of load maneuvering
  • Never exceed payload or lift capacities
  • Only load and unload equipment on level ground to prevent tipping, rollovers, material spills, and other risks
  • Always carefully check riggings prior to lifting a load
  • Machine operators must always wear a seat belt, which is a lifesaver in the event of a rollover; never attempt to jump out of a tipping or sliding machine
  • Know your equipment’s blind spots
  • Only essential personnel should be in the immediate vicinity of equipment in use
  • Workers—both in and out of machines—must always remain aware of their surroundings
  • Avoid working or walking under loads or within a swing radius
  • Always wear appropriate PPE on the job site
  • Wear high-visibility clothing when working around heavy equipment
  • Use each piece of machinery only for the tasks it’s built for as per the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Establish clearly marked pathways for driving and hauling heavy equipment and trucks; keep them clear of pedestrians and work
  • Use spotters when moving equipment
  • Use radios for constant communication in and around machinery, or at least use hand signals
  • Light construction sites well from dusk through dawn
  • Ensure that all underground utilities, like power, water, sewer, and gas lines, have been identified and prominently marked around all digging sites
  • Power lines above and around machinery should be powered down or separated by adequate barriers to prevent electrical hazards
  • Thoroughly visually inspect every machine, including tires or tracks, for wear, damage, loose connections, and other problems before use
  • Confirm proper fluid levels and properly functioning lights, backup alarms, and other safety features before use
  • Never use any heavy equipment that isn’t in good condition or that doesn’t have fully functioning safety features and operator controls
  • Perform preventive maintenance on all heavy equipment as per the manufacturer’s recommendations to keep it working well and safely
  • Follow all lock-out/tag-out procedures when performing machine maintenance