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Winter brings many difficulties, especially in areas that receive heavy frosts and icy overnight conditions. The ground can freeze, water can freeze and rupture water tanks, and equipment can be damaged, making it dangerous. Before starting work each day, a heavy equipment operator’s first task is to give his equipment a full inspection, especially in areas where icy temperatures may cause damages.
We’re pretty smart these days. We put antifreeze in products that may be affected by cold temperatures, however, it is the hoses and pipes that often suffer the most. Start a vehicle and send hot liquids through hoses or pipes that are still very cold and you run the risk of having them rupture. Icy temperatures also cause materials to shrink. This constant shrinking and expanding over winter can create stress fractures in some materials, again causing problems during operations.
While heavy equipment safety is centered on the equipment’s safe use, maintenance does also play a serious role. Start-up and shut-down inspections are important at all times of the year, however, winter does bring its own hazards. Many years ago, operators learned their craft by watching their father or a friend operate their equipment. If they were lucky, they also got to ‘have a play’ during lunch breaks or at the end of the day. That taught people how to operate their equipment, but it failed to teach many of the important safety aspects.
Today, if you want to work as a heavy equipment operator, you require professional training that includes heavy equipment safety training. Heavy equipment in the wrong hands can be very dangerous and we have seen over the years a lot of accidents that have caused serious harm. If you are looking for a career as a heavy equipment operator, make sure your training has the proper focus on heavy equipment safety.