Heavy Equipment and the Need for Safety Training

Posted On: January 22, 2018
What is Heavy Equipment Training
There is a great deal of responsibility attached to using heavy equipment. According to NIOSH the machinery that are classified as heavy equipment include: excavators, backhoes, cranes and draglines, dozers, graders, compactors and rollers, scrapers, loaders, mixers, heavy hauler trucks, cable plows, augers, forklifts, and manlifts.

Owners of businesses that utilize heavy equipment also bear the potential for liability if employees have not been trained and certified. Click To Tweet

Owners of businesses that utilize heavy equipment also bear the potential for liability if employees have not been trained and certified. For example, forklifts used in warehousing and distribution centers require certification according to OSHA regulations. There are various training methods that a company can use. Online training can be an easy, integral step to heavy equipment certification that is standardized, professional, and created by subject matter experts in the field. In some states, training is provided at time of hire or when an employee's duties change and require the use of heavy equipment. Employers who require employees to use heavy equipment should review their liability insurance policy to determine specific coverage and responsibility for employees operating heavy equipment. Construction projects often require a broad range of heavy equipment like backhoes, loaders, dozers, excavators, cranes, and lifts. Lifts also require training when they are used for aerial lifting of employees. Employers may find OSHA inspections uncover lack of safety training a cause of worksite accidents and injuries. This is true of heavy equipment like boom trucks and telehandlers. It is important for employees to understand differences in safety procedures between use of forklifts and telehandlers. Safety training for heavy equipment provides these guidelines, as well as NIOSH and OSHA details on safety practices for operators. This includes basic safety items like seatbelts, hearing protection, study work pants and shirts, reflective vests, hard hats and work gloves and safety footwear. Note that in each state, there may be additional compliance regulations that exceed NIOSH or OSHA due to specific use and terrain within each state.

Safety Training for Heavy Equipment Operators

A study course in safety training for operators of heavy equipment also includes identifying potential hazards. For example, materials that fall from these vehicles, proper inspection, fueling and equipment maintenance, traffic control in areas where heavy equipment is used and reduction of noise where applicable. Operators are trained in rollover protection structures. Additional training is given in inspection procedures for vehicle steps, grab irons, pedals, handrails, cab floors to detect defects or debris that may be hazardous. The U.S. Center for Disease Control also provides documentation on heavy equipment safety and hazards for construction in the "Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (eLCOSH)."

Procedures for Operating Heavy Equipment Safely

Heavy equipment safety training offers all operators a comprehensive study course that aids in daily use of specific types of equipment before, during and after operation. After the initial pre-use inspection procedure, the operator should also check equipment controls to ensure they are working according to manufacturer's specifications. Employers and operators should determine the location of utility lines above and below ground. This can be done with the help of the utility provider. The U.S. Pipeline Division requires under state laws that all excavations and digging with the use of heavy equipment by operators and owners must call authorities to alert them. Call before You Dig has become law across the states and if ignored, a fine is attached. Post contact names and numbers to call in a visible place at the worksite. Heavy equipment operators are trained in the 3-Point Contact Rule regarding safe mount and dismount and entrance and exit this equipment as follows: "Two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand. Both feet planted firmly on equipment or vehicle steps, with one hand grabbing a solid object, such as the steering wheel or the grab handle. The other option is to have both hands on the grab handles or steering wheel and one foot on the step. These techniques provide maximum stability and support while reducing the likelihood of slipping and falling." After using heavy equipment, the following procedures should be followed:
  • Safe parking on level ground
  • Ensure pressure relief from all hydraulic controls
  • Dismount after all motion from the equipment stops
  • Use the 3 Point Contact rule to dismount
  • Remove keys from all unattended heavy equipment vehicles
For optimum safety, don’t forget to enroll employees and machinery operators to the appropriate Heavy Equipment Safety Training or construction safety training they need to execute their tasks. Invest in workplace safety and online training not just so that you won’t have to deal with compliance issues, but also to effectively reduce the threat of common workplace hazards and accidents involving heavy equipment.

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