Like anyone who works around heavy equipment, you know that having a healthy respect for these tools is not negotiable. No doubt you’ve heard a few horror stories about people who were careless with heavy equipment and paid the price for it, and chances are you know someone who was seriously injured- or worse- during a moment of distraction.
Of course, the workplace can be a busy and confusing place with lots of activities going on around you which can lead to distraction. Also, when heavy machines are not properly maintained they can malfunction unexpectedly- something which no level of care during use can prevent.
Here are 7 critical tips to help you stay safe, and go home with all your fingers and toes at the end of the day.
1. Know your equipment
It can be tempting to fire up that drill press or hop into that forklift and get the job done even if you don’t have the training or experience to operate it safely. Don’t. Even if it’s a relatively simple machine, if you have no experience, you may miss an important feature or safety requirement that could result in a trip to the E.R. Read the manual. Get the training. Be certified.
2. Stay alert
Operating heavy equipment while under rested, including driving, results in thousands of work-related injuries and deaths each year. Of course, other distractions such as personal problems or an over active work area can cause you to take your eye off what you’re doing and lapse into inattention. Every heavy equipment operator must make a personal commitment to being well rested and well focused on the task at hand.
3. Wear the right protective equipment
If you think strapping on that harness or going back to the truck to get those gloves is slowing down your work day, just imagine how much of a setback three weeks in the hospital will be. Put on that hard hat, wear those gloves, and buckle that seatbelt. Your wife and kids will thank you… maybe.
4. Know your OSHA regulations
Most equipment has OSHA and ANSI regulations. As the operator, you need to be familiar with these regulations before operating any heavy equipment to assure safety and compliance.
5. Take your time
It’s hard to do a study of just how dangerous being in a hurry around big machines can be. But if you’ve got more than a month’s worth of experience working around heavy machinery, you know that it’s a problem. Getting in a hurry almost always results in lower quality work, which will have you scrambling to tidy things up or doing things twice. The best way to save time is to do things one at a time, with deliberation, using your whole attention.
6. Always work on a level surface
Most machines are designed to work on a level surface. If you haven’t got a level surface available, then your shop or work area needs some remodeling. Level that surface, and stay safe.
7. Do walk around inspections
Before you fire it up, walk around it. After you shut it off, walk around it. Get in the habit of looking for wear and tear and anything missing or out of place. Know when it’s time to replace forklift forks and other important parts. A lot of accidents happen due to a loose screw, or a piece of debris on the floor. Many times, these accidents can be prevented with a simple walk around.