If you operate heavy machinery in your job, you owe it to yourself, your employer, and everyone else you come into contact with to work as safely and efficiently as you can. After all, as helpful as heavy machinery is to get a job done faster and more cost-effectively, heavy machinery is just what it is–big, heavy, and potentially very dangerous. We reached out to several experts in the field, and through contributions with a local San Diego personal injury lawyer, we were able to come up with these safety points both employers and employees need to take into consideration.
1. Get trained. An operator who doesn’t understand the potential as well as the limits of the machinery he is trying to operate is as big a hazard as the machinery itself. In fact, operator error is one of the largest causes of safety issues. As alarming at this is, any good equipment operator who is well trained and operates within the limits of his machinery is a safe operator. But also remember that once you are trained to operate heavy machinery doesn’t mean that you won’t acquire bad habits or are safe to operate any equipment. Make sure that your training is up to date to make sure you are refreshed on safe operation procedures as well as checked out on different equipment.
2. Safe equipment. Anytime a pilot takes the controls of his aircraft, he will complete a check of all the plane’s systems, including a walk-around of the plane itself. A check by a crew chief or some other person is never good enough. As a heavy equipment operator, you should take the same precautions with the equipment you will be operating. Walk around it. Check the maintenance record. All of this is important to safe operation.
3. What’s outside? Just because your equipment is in good operating order, doesn’t mean that it is being operated safely. Many accidents involve a machine that is being operated beyond its capacity on unstable ground or in unsafe weather. You can’t assume that just because your machinery is in good condition that the ground outside is too.
4. Get protected. If the safe operation of your heavy equipment requires the use of protective gear, make sure you are wearing it and are wearing it correctly. Accident reports are rife with the stories of operators who had their protective gear close, or even within arm’s reach, but didn’t take the time or make the effort to put it on.
5. Be secured. If you operate heavy machinery, chances are very good that you work with heavy loads in the course of doing your job. If picking up and/or moving heavy loads are part of your work, make sure that the load is secured safely and not too heavy for what you are trying to do.
It’s little wonder that those who operate heavy machinery must earn licenses in order to work legally with their equipment. Without the training and experience required to operate this machinery there is little doubt that the workplace would be much more hazardous than what it is. In fact, much of the standards that have been implemented to this day have been grown from situations that presented entirely too many problems in years past. Fortunately, operating your heavy machinery in a safe manner contributes to the rich legacy of those who have endeavored to make the American workplace one of the safest available anywhere.