20 Heavy Equipment Construction Safety Tips

Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by Construction Digest

Heavy construction equipment, such as backhoes, bulldozers and dump trucks are used frequently in the construction industry.

These machines can be very dangerous if not handled correctly, so it is important to read safety tips for operating heavy equipment before attempting to use them.

1) Wear protective clothing

Heavy construction equipment can be very dangerous if the operator is wearing loose clothing or jewelry which could become caught on moving parts of machinery.

Wearing high visibility clothing will help avoid accidents caused by collisions between operators and their surroundings.

Additionally, footwear with non-slip soles will prevent slips and falls during operation.

2) Use the right machine for your job

Not all heavy construction equipment was created equal; some may be better suited than others depending on the size of the job, terrain and access to power supplies.

Machines with forks are designed to lift cargo that is not too heavy or bulky, but large backhoes can do the job much more quickly.

3) No road rage

It’s important to remember about the weight of construction equipment when driving it on roads; heavy machines can distract other drivers and may cause accidents.

It’s also important to drive them cautiously while in residential areas due to their loudness and high fuel consumption. Always obey speed limits while operating heavy machinery on public roads.

4) Use GPS navigation systems for convenience

GPS software allows operators of heavy construction equipment to safely navigate through tight spaces, onto non-road surfaces such as grass or loose gravel.

GPS technology also provides operators with the opportunity to pre-plan their route before starting their job.

5) Check your equipment regularly

Construction companies should conduct regular maintenance checks of heavy construction equipment to avoid accidents caused by faulty machinery.

For example, in Australia in 2013, a driver was killed after being crushed by a bulldozer which had not been inspected since 2007 .

6) Remove obstacles from work areas

It’s important for operators of heavy construction equipment to remove any obstacles such as rocks or other debris before beginning operations so they don’t get caught under the machine and cause serious injuries.

Rocks can fly up when the front bucket of backhoes get too close so it’s best to keep them at least 60 feet away.

7) Take rest and water breaks

Just like heavy equipment operators in other industries, construction employees need to take breaks while on the job.

If you get tired or begin to feel faint while operating a machine, stop immediately and find some shade under which you can relax for at least 15 minutes. It’s important to drink plenty of water during hot days when working outside.

8) Be aware of blind spots

It’s very dangerous to get too close to the blind spot of a backhoe, so be sure to check your surroundings before using the bucket or turning it around.

It may also be necessary to use spotters in order avoid accidents in tight work zones.

9) Avoid distractions

Crime is a problem in many cities so it’s never a good idea to bring valuables with you while operating heavy construction equipment.

It’s also important to avoid talking on a cell phone because the sound of the engine may make it impossible for someone to hear what another person is saying.

10) Watch out for pedestrians and other vehicles

Construction sites are often located in crowded urban areas near schools, hospitals and other buildings which can be occupied by people at any time during the day.

Heavy construction equipment operators must always pay attention to their surroundings while operating their machines in populated areas.

11) What goes up must come down

A backhoe or bulldozer blade must not be raised too high above the ground when moving dirt from one location to another.

It could fall off and injure nearby people or damage the machine. Keep an eye on the angle of your blade to avoid accidently dropping it onto cars or people who may be passing by.

12) Beware of weather conditions

Rainy days are not good for heavy construction equipment because mud and dirt can adhere to the tires, making them slippery. Drivers should take extra care when operating their machines during inclement weather.

Don’t drive vehicles across bodies of water if you don’t know how deep they are; this is a recipe for disaster.

13) Make sure your engine is off before getting out

Many accidents involving heavy construction equipment occur when drivers leave their engines running while getting out to inspect machinery or perform other tasks.

Some companies require employees to switch off their engines before exiting their vehicles so they don’t risk getting trapped underneath .

14) Always check for overhead power lines 

Heavy construction equipment can throw off a lot of dirt and dust, which can lead to electrical problems or overheating of the machine.

It’s always best to have someone else inspect the area with you before operating your machine just to be sure that no power lines are within range of the bucket/backhoe.

15) Wear appropriate clothing

Safety gear such as glasses, heavy work boots and safety harnesses should be worn at all times while operating heavy construction equipment.

Additionally, anyone who will be working on a site where there is a chance of an explosion (such as one containing propane tanks or gas cylinders) must wear personal protective equipment such as a flame retardant suit.

16) Give your machine plenty of clearance

It’s important to leave enough room between you and other objects while operating heavy construction equipment , especially if the area is congested with buildings, cars and pedestrians.

The backhoe should always be kept at least 10 feet away from anything that could be accidentally struck or damaged by its bucket.

17) Don’t forget about safety meetings

Many companies hold regular safety meetings where employees can voice their concerns about possible hazards on site.

If anyone has any ideas for potential improvements in safety procedures, these should be discussed during the meeting so they can be implemented immediately.

18) Always check the brake lights

One sure sign that an operator is about to back up their heavy construction equipment is when they use the rear-view mirror to look at what’s directly behind them.

Be sure to always check your vehicle’s brake lights if you intend on backing up so you don’t risk accidentally running over someone who did not hear you coming.

19) Don’t overload your machine

A bulldozer should never be loaded with more weight than its maximum load capacity.

Overloading can cause problems with stability and other dangerous situations, especially when trying to move dirt or clay.

If the material seems too difficult to work with then it might be best to bring in a larger piece of heavy construction equipment.

20) Wash your vehicle regularly

The more your heavy construction equipment accumulates dirt, mud and grime, the more difficult it will be to see while operating.

Keep a hose nearby so you can wash off the exterior of your machine every once in a while or always park it next to a water source (like a hydrant). If debris starts sticking to the tires then it may be time for new ones.


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