Jobsite Safety Tips

Contractors rely on construction equipment to save time, money, and manpower on jobsites. Unfortunately, the same equipment can be extremely hazardous to operators and labourers alike, when used in an unsafe manner.

Potential dangers include being “struck by moving equipment, crushed between equipment and other objects, subjected to electrical contact while operating a vehicle or equipment, struck by an inadequately secured load [that is] being lifted or moved” and being “struck or crushed by equipment tipping over,” notes the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

Accidents and injuries can be largely avoided, however, by following common-sense precautions and provincial health and safety guidelines.

Safety tips for equipment operators include:

Know your equipment. Don’t operate machinery you’re not trained to use. Read the Operator’s Manual and know what all the buttons, switches, levers, and pedals inside the cab do before trying them out.   

Know your worksite. Familiarize yourself with the construction site. Walk around the area before doing any work. It’s imperative that supervisors warn operators about buried pipes and cables, overhead wires, or other hazards. Such potential dangers need to be mapped and marked with flags or warning signs.      

Stay focused. Don’t operate construction equipment while texting, emailing, listening to music, or talking into an electronic device. Not paying attention to your work is a recipe for disaster.   

Handle with care. Inspect all equipment carefully before using it. Check tracks for damage and tires for pressure and wear. Note fluid levels. Examine the boom and attachments for damage. Make sure attachments are properly secured and that cab controls are in working condition. Immediately report any problems to your supervisor.    

Handle with care, part two. Don’t use equipment that hasn’t been serviced in months or is behaving erratically.  

Know your limitations. What is the maximum lift load or load capacity of the equipment you’re operating? Don’t exceed these limits.   

Be cautious. To prevent rollovers, only load, unload, or park on level ground. Double-check that the emergency brake is engaged when you park. To avoid being asphyxiated by exhaust fumes, never start an engine inside an enclosed space such as a garage.     

Be aware. Note your surroundings and any labourers around you. Be mindful of your swing radius, so you don’t accidentally knock someone over. If possible, work with a trained signaller who can indicate when it’s safe to move loads and perform other tasks.    

Be protected. Wear a seatbelt. Even at slow-speed, a sudden stop can be dangerous for an unbelted driver. Also: ROPS are tops for rollover protection.    

Don’t rush. Wait for the engine to cool before adding gas to the fuel tank and coolant to the radiator.     

Enter and Exit with Grace. Use the “three contact point” method when entering your machine (three limbs should at all times be in contact with three different parts of the equipment). Don’t leap from the cab and don’t carry anything when exiting or entering.    

Dress appropriately. Equipment operators should wear a hard hat, safety glasses, work boots and other protective gear, just like any other construction worker.   

A final thought: Take the keys with you when you’re done for the day, even on secure job sites.

Supervisors must inspect the jobsite regularly and confirm that equipment is well-maintained and only used by qualified operators. Supervisors need to stay up-to-date on provincial regulations, and make sure workers are following them.

Remember: getting the job done right with minimal injuries is more important than getting the job done quickly at all costs.