Avoiding a Disaster: 9 Incident-Prevention Tips for Moving Heavy Machinery
It stands to reason that any sort of heavy machinery and equipment presents a danger to users and those in the immediate vicinity if the operator does not have the relevant training or safety procedures are not being followed.
However, it can also be argued that it only takes a momentary lapse of concentration for even an experienced machine operator to suffer or cause an accident.
Moving heavy machinery is a particular challenge and that is why there are companies who provide the services and support you need in many different circumstances, and you can check out AAMachinery.com for more on that if you want.
Meanwhile, here are some pointers on what aspects of safety you need to be mindful of when you are attempting to operate and move heavy machinery.
Blind spots are always a major issue
If you are moving an item that is not only large but is not a conventional shape either, there will almost inevitably be some blind spots where the operator will be unable to be completely sure what is behind them or to their side.
In this scenario, it is always prudent to consider getting out of the vehicle and double-checking that there are no people or obstructions in the way before moving.
A good way of doubling up on safety would be to use someone as a spotter who can guide the driver and warn them of any issues before it is too late.
A good line of communication is essential
Carrying on from that, it is also important to ensure that there is a constant level of communication with everyone around you when you are moving heavy machinery or equipment.
One of the best ways to maintain a good level of constant communication is to use a two-radio, especially if there is a lot of noise around and it may be difficult to hear someone shouting.
A safety backup would be to employ some recognized hand signals that everyone is familiar with after they have had their safety briefing and training.
Don’t forget your seatbelt
If there is one common aspect of vehicle safety that tends to get overlooked more than anything else it is the use of seatbelts.
It needs to be appreciated that wearing a seatbelt when moving such large and heavy items is just as relevant and essential as the need to buckle up when you are driving a car.
There is always the potential risk of a rollover incident and a seatbelt will also help to keep you in control of the vehicle when navigating challenging surfaces.
The message is clear, don’t run risks by thinking it is not that important to wear a seatbelt if you are moving slowly or only traveling a short distance, as it could save you from a serious accident at some point.
Taking care when entering and exiting the cab
One of the biggest causes of injury when operating and moving heavy machinery is falls and slips, according to OSHA accident data.
If you are climbing up into the cabin or exiting the vehicle, you will often have a distance to negotiate before your feet are on the ground or you are safely inside the cab, which is why you need to follow some basic safety procedures when mounting and dismounting.
Your aim should be to try and follow a three-point rule, which involves establishing three points of contact at all times during the maneuver.
This means having a firm hold with both hands and one feet or both feet and one hand.
Use the steps and handholds provided when entering or exiting the cabin.
Be aware of height restrictions
Another major source of accidents is when overhead obstructions such as power lines or underground utilities such as gas pipes are not properly identified or accounted for.
If you are moving machinery you need to know the clearance height and any exposed utilities or areas that could be vulnerable under extreme weight also need to be flagged beforehand.
Know your limits
Next up is a reminder on any load limits that are applicable to the vehicle or machinery you are transporting.
There needs to be a good level of safety awareness with regard to ensuring that any loads you are carrying are secured with rigging where necessary and before you begin any the aim should be to carry out a risk assessment to clarify that load limits are not being exceeded.
Always make time for a final inspection
It never hurts to carry out a final walk-around inspection of the machinery before starting to move.
A good procedure would be to create a checklist of things that you need to confirm are in working order before you go anywhere or do anything.
It is this discipline of last-minute final checks that can sometimes reveal a problem that might otherwise have gone unnoticed and could have then created a potentially dangerous situation.
Make sure you are primed too
It is all very well making sure that the machinery is in good working order and ready to go but the same comments apply to the operator too.
Always know your limits when it comes to operational procedures and be prepared to ask if there is something you are unsure about.
You also need to be alert and ready to tackle the task, as operator tiredness is a potential danger.
Don’t forget lockout procedures
Finally, you don’t want the machinery to be able to cause injury when it is not in use through an unexpected startup or because a residual energy source is still present.
Use lockout tags and procedures to render the equipment in a safe state and in order to prevent the prospect of an incident that could have been avoided if you followed these basic safety procedures.
Prevention is always better than the cure and that is definitely true when it comes to moving heavy machinery, so be prepared and always have safety at the forefront of your mind.