Construction sites across Missouri pose endless numbers of safety hazards, many of which are life-threatening. Heavy machines are essential on construction sites, but they pose some of the most severe safety risks. If you operate a crane, excavator or another type of heavy equipment, you will be wise to take your own safety precautions instead of relying on your employer to protect your health and safety.
Working among incomplete structures and surrounded by scores of other construction workers busy with other tasks requires your alertness and awareness of your surroundings every second of the time you spend operating your machine. Even if your equipment operated without problems on your previous shift, safety checks before you start your next shift is crucial.
How can you stay safe?
Whenever you operate heavy equipment, you and your co-workers at ground level will face higher injury and even fatality risks. Taking precautions might allow you to return home safely at the end of every day.
Carry out visual inspections at the start of every shift to check the following:
- Check that parts on equipment such as air compressors fit correctly. Weakly fitted parts can affect the performance and safety of the equipment.
- Check the tracks and tires of vehicles, and remember to also check the hydraulic fluid, engine oil and other oil levels. Also check for damage or potential malfunction of buckets, booms, hoses and any other equipment.
Vigilance about daily inspections can prevent injuries to you and coworkers, and it might even save lives.
You should never operate machines for which you do not have the necessary training. The following is crucial for equipment operators and those working in the surrounding areas:
- Your training should include classroom and fieldwork to ensure practical training through hands-on instructions.
- You must learn how to recognize potential hazards and how to mitigate them.
- You must understand the workings of all the safety features on the equipment you operate.
- You should use the proper mounting and dismounting procedures of equipment.
- You should be fully familiar with how to maneuver the machine on the construction site.
You should also insist on refresher courses and full training for any new equipment that you might have to operate.
Personal protective equipment
Never work without the recommended personal protective equipment to protect you from equipment hazards as well as any chemical hazards you might encounter. PPE typically includes the following:
- A hard hat to protect your head from struck-by injuries
- Safety boots and gloves to suit the type of hazards you face
- Safety glasses with side shields to protect your eyes from flying debris and dust
- Respiratory protection if you work in a hazardous environment with airborne dangers such as mold or dust
You would be wise to wear PPE recommended by the American National Standards Institute.
Being thoroughly aware of the surrounding area is crucial, with special attention to the following:
- Make sure that only necessary and trained workers share the area in which you have to maneuver the heavy equipment.
- Be aware of every pedestrian worker and never lose sight of them.
- Make sure you know the locations of overhead power lines.
- Learn about the locations of underground hazards such as sewage, electrical, gas and water lines.
Mark these hazards clearly and put barricades around them to prevent accidental contact.
What to do if you are injured
Regardless of all the precautions you might take while operating heavy equipment on a construction site, accidents can happen at any time. If you are a victim of such an incident, you must report your injuries to your employer immediately after receiving the necessary medical care. This can set the wheels in motion for a workers' compensation claim, and an experienced Missouri attorney can assist with the pursuit of applicable benefits.