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Heavy Equipment Safety – The Silly Things Operators Sometimes Do

It doesn’t matter how much training you give an individual, there are still times when they will do something silly. That one silly act can often have devastating results. The big problem is often being too relaxed and getting into bad habits. What prompted this post today was the story of an English heavy equipment operator who was run over (and killed) by his own ‘steamroller’. How? The details are not clear, however, it appears he climbed out of his cab and went to the front of the equipment, and it rolled on top of him – not a pleasant experience, yet it could have been avoided by ensuring the hand break was on, or better yet, not standing in front of his equipment.

We frequently hear or read about accidents, some that threaten life whilst others are just downright inconvenient. As an operator, the day will come when a neighbor, friend or family member asks for a favor – dig me a pool; grade my driveway; dig up an old tree stump. Every weekend there are heavy equipment operators doing these favors, and every weekend there is an accident of some description.

Some of these accidents involve hitting the wall or roof of a building. Of more concern is the digging up and rupturing of underground services. Sewerage is an obvious problem, however, it’s gas that causes the biggest problems, often involving the evacuation of nearby residents for several hours. More disturbing is the failure to look up, and in failing to do so, coming into contact with overhead powerlines. Small towns have been blacked out for hours because someone failed to take care.

These situations are all avoidable. Checking for underground services before digging; being constantly aware of overhead powerlines; and being aware of your surroundings, especially if you’re in unfamiliar territory. Interesting, these are skills and processes that most operators do automatically whilst at work – take them out of the workplace, and those skills and processes are suddenly forgotten. We can train you to become a heavy equipment operator, and we can train you in all the safety requirements of heavy equipment operations. What we can’t do is train common sense – hopefully, you already have that.

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