According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 15,000 construction site injuries in the US and more than a thousand of those injuries are fatal. Unfortunately, a large number of these injuries could’ve been prevented if the people in charge put some time and effort into quick but effective training sessions and regular reminders. Moreover, during our research, we found that a large portion of these accidents are caused by the presence of heavy machinery on-site, a critical part of almost every construction site, which is why we’ve compiled a list of construction safety tips when working around heavy machinery using data from the BLS, OSHA, and CDC.
1. High Temperatures
Heat injury is a serious health problem that affects thousands of workers every year. But combine the extreme heat of the summer with heavy machinery and your construction site becomes a lot more dangerous. Metal surfaces of your machinery can easily burn workers. Your operators are at even greater risk as they might get caught out with hot instruments and lose control of the machine. It’s also not uncommon for operators to fall off a machine due to extremely hot metal surfaces when trying to dismount (more on that later).
The best way to avoid such injuries? Protective clothing. Workers might not be too excited about wearing bulky clothes in the heat but it’s for their safety. At the very least, they should be wearing gloves at all times. White-colored clothing, regular breaks, and water would further help in keeping body temperatures down.
It’s also in your best interest to know when it’s time to stop. Take a look at OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention Campaign to learn what temperatures are safe for work.
According to the CDC, falling is the leading cause of work-related injuries and deaths in construction sites, and falls in the construction industry are frequently fatal. In other words, you don't want your workers to lose balance and fall down in an active construction site. The stakes are even higher when there are heavy machinery, like skid loaders, working around them.
And what’s the most dangerous and often the most dangerous time to fall? When mounting or dismounting heavy machinery.
The best way to avoid such injuries? Use the three-point contact rule, according to which, the worker must maintain at least three points of contact with their hands and feet while mounting or dismounting a machine to limit the possibilities of slipping or falling.
3. Hand Signals
As useful and versatile heavy machinery is, they can be noisy and make it difficult when workers try to communicate with one another. In addition, machine operators (especially crane operators) are often positioned far from those directing the work. Not being able to understand each other can have dangerous consequences on a construction site. One way around this is to use radios for communication. It’s also what most construction sites use to overcome loud machines. But radios don’t always work and you must have a backup in case the radios stop working and your operators and workers can’t communicate with each other.
The backup? Hand signals. Train employees to learn and use and understand simple but clear hand signals when the need arises.
4. Regular Inspection
Machines require maintenance - no two ways about it. But the maintenance also needs to be regular or else critical signs of damage or improper fits can go unnoticed. For instance, if a skid loader’s tracks aren’t properly tensioned, it can simply walk out of its tracks and potentially hurt others nearby.
There are millions of other ways a lack of heavy machinery maintenance can lead to disaster in a construction site. So put in the time and effort into keeping your machines in perfect condition. Otherwise, you could be paying $991,027 - the average hospital costs for a fatal construction accident.
5. Training Session
A proper training session can be as short as 30-minutes. It would be enough to cover the basics of best safety practices when working around heavy machinery. A few of these training sessions will allow employees to understand the common hazards when working with heavy machinery, the correct way to inspect and maintain heavy machinery, and also teach awareness procedures to both operators and ground crew.
And that wraps our top 5 construction safety tips when working around heavy machinery. You can learn about these safety tips through official websites of BLS, OSHA, and CDC.
Nina is a freelance writer specializing in a few niches, including Home & Garden. Writing engaging and high-quality content ranging from interior design and landscape architecture to commercial construction and heavy equipment. Her vice in life is a nice glass of red wine, a great cup of coffee (black), and sandy toes on the beach.
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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