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Heavy equipment hazards on job sites can be mitigated

If you are an operator of any of the massive machines that work on construction sites in California, the safety of you and your coworkers will be at risk. On many job sites, employers prioritize profits instead of employee safety. When this is the case, you might be wise to learn about the hazards and how to mitigate them.

Even if you have done this type of work for many years without adverse incidents, it is crucial not to become complacent. Operating heavy equipment is dangerous, even if machines function as they should. The endless list of potential hazards requires alertness at all times and safety must remain your priority.

Training

Never disregard the value of training, which includes the following:

  • Each piece of equipment is unique, and you must never work on a machine without the necessary training.
  • You must also learn how to do your job while other workers are present at ground level.
  • Your training must include hazard identification.
  • You must also learn to identify and use all the safety features of the equipment you operate along with safe methods to mount and dismount the machine.

Understand that retraining or refresher courses are valuable tools to keep you safe.

Personal protective equipment

Never disregard the need for personal protective equipment. The following PPE can mean the difference between life and death:

  • Your PPE should protect you from injuries and hazards posed by dangerous materials.
  • Never work without a hardhat.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses with added side shields.
  • Protective gloves that suit your job may have heavy-duty leather or material to protect you against hazardous chemicals.
  • Depending on the environment where you work, you might need respiratory equipment such as face pieces that can filter airborne particles, mold and dust.

Safety authorities require your employer to provide PPE approved by the American National Standards Institute.

Visual inspections

While your employer is responsible for the maintenance of heavy equipment, you can protect yourself by conducting visual inspections of the following at the start of every shift:

  • Check the condition of your machine's tires and tracks.
  • Check all fluids such as hydraulic fluids, engine oil and other oil levels.
  • Look for damage on booms, buckets and hoses.
  • Check for loose connections on air compressors that can cause injury and affect performance.

Note that visual inspections can prevent injuries and save lives.

Awareness

Alertness to the surroundings on the job site is crucial. Always be aware of the following:

  • Make sure only trained and authorized workers enter the hazardous area where you operate heavy equipment.
  • Always make sure you know the extent of your machine's movement. Know the crane's swing radius or other peripheral movements.
  • Make sure you know of the presence of overhead power lines and plan the job to avoid such hazards.
  • Also, be aware of underground dangers such as sewage, water, gas and electrical lines. Mark their locations before work commences.

Never lose sight of ground-level workers.

Your rights to compensation

California workers in all industries are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If you suffer job site injuries while operating a piece of heavy equipment, reporting the incident will start the wheels rolling for potential compensation. You can use the assistance of legal counsel to help you navigate the benefits claims process.

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