Moving Equipment Leads to Multiple Hazards

Construction sites are typically congested areas of intense work. They often involve multiple tasks taking place simultaneously. This high-risk activity can be found in various scenarios, including pipeline builds, manufacturing sites, and road builds, among others. In all instances, heavy equipment such as bulldozers, cranes, and large earth-moving trucks are used to conduct work. 

This cumbersome and large equipment can be difficult to maneuver around a worksite. Assets can become damaged, and personnel can experience injury due to unwanted contact. A bulldozer operator might not be aware of an individual within striking distance from the rear. Large trucks include blind spots and can be difficult to navigate in tight areas. A building’s edge or another piece of equipment might receive a scrape or strike during movement. 

Fortunately, precautions can be taken to avoid that unwanted contact. Proper planning can help establish a course of safe work action. Safeguards can be implemented to provide a safe work experience and strive to eliminate unwanted contact and potential injury. 

Spotters 

It is often said that one should always ask for help if it is needed. Operators should recognize when they need assistance in maneuvering equipment, but a healthy dose of safety should include a mandated spotting program. 

It is recommended that a spotter should be used to assist the operator. The spotter can ensure drive paths are clear, and assist in keeping personnel out of the line of fire of hazards. 

At a minimum, spotters should be used when operating equipment and vehicles in reverse. Using signal flags, the spotter can guide the operator on a safe reverse track to avoid incident and injury. 

Spotters can also help identify potential strikes in congested areas. If a tight turn is to be executed, the spotter can monitor the clearance distance and communicate this back to the operator to ensure a safe and successful operation. 

Routing Traffic

To effectively manage the flow of equipment and vehicle traffic, paths and zones should be established. Safe walkways can be developed and implemented to guide foot traffic through the worksite and steer clear of hazardous work. 

One-way routes can be established to better control vehicle and machinery movement. This would help minimize the direction of potential strikes and contact. Depending on the size and scope of the work, the worksite can be divided into blocks, and spotters can manage intersections. This proactive behavior can ensure pedestrians are protected while equipment is safely managed to ensure a safe and cohesive state of simultaneous activity. 

Training 

Training is the key to success in any operation. It, however, is not exclusive to just operating heavy machinery in regards to the current point of focus. It is actually a multi-layered system. 

Operators should be trained to manage the equipment they use to conduct their work. A bulldozer operator should be trained to run, troubleshoot, and shut down the machinery in the event of an emergency. The same can be said for a cement truck operator. 

The training does not stop at this point, though. The customer or work site person in charge should ensure that additional training segments have been completed. The use of traffic routing procedures and spotter implementation could very well be site-specific. As a result, operators and incoming personnel must receive adequate training so they can understand and follow these procedures while working on the construction site. 

If an incident occurs, difficulty is levied in trying to define cause when it is discovered that the proper training was never conducted. Only so much can be asked of an employee if they do not receive the necessary training needed to succeed in the workplace. 

Safe Future 

It takes the proper tools and equipment to complete a job. The safe use and proper implementation of safety standards and proactive behavior are needed to complete that job in a safe manner. 

Utilizing a robust pre-job planning methodology can help look ahead at potential hazards and issues. It is here that these safe work methods can be implemented early on in job procedure. Identifying that the job will contain moving parts with large groups of people can be managed effectively through precautionary procedures like spotting and traffic routing, but it takes training to make sure each individual grasps the necessary understanding of the safe work expectation being implemented. 

Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. Besides providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with nine years of experience. He also contributes to Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and Masonry Magazine. Nick has a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. 210-240-7188 [email protected]