OSHA has a standard for almost everything you do when you’re working on a construction site. The agency developed 29 CFR 1926.500 – 503 to outline specific requirements to protect you from falling on the job. Included in that standard is a discussion about fall protection while you’re operating heavy equipment. What OSHA forgot to add, were guidelines about how to properly get on and off the machinery you use everyday without incident.
That doesn’t mean the subject isn’t important. Many injuries occur because workers fail to properly mount/dismount heavy equipment. Here are some basic procedures associated with mounting/dismounting of construction equipment that can keep you alert to the hazards and reduce your risk of injury:
- Look before and where you step
- Use every available handhold/foothold – Handholds and footholds should be made of a solid material, and permanently fixed into position. Chains are not acceptable because they aren’t stable.
- Maintain 3-point contact – This means you must have contact with one hand and two feet or two hands and one foot at all times. Three-point contact forms a triangle, with the worker’s body being the center. The smaller the triangle, the more stable you are.
- Step squarely, never at an angle
- Never attempt to mount/dismount from moving equipment
- Never jump off equipment
- Mount/dismount facing the equipment
- Never climb up to or get down from cabs or seats with tools or other items in your hands. Always use a drop rope to raise or lower supplies, tools, and equipment.
- Be conscious of the clothing you wear – Don’t wear loose or torn clothing because it might become caught on equipment.
Once you have successfully mounted the equipment, you should check inside the cab to be sure that:
- All door latches work and can be opened from both inside and out
- The seat suspension operates the way it’s supposed to – If there are any loose, broken, or missing parts, report it to the supervisor immediately.
- The forward and rear adjustment, weight compensators, and other adjustable features work correctly
- The seat belts adjust properly and are free of apparent damage that could cause failure. Keep in mind that OSHA mandates whenever seat belts are provided in a vehicle, they must be used whether or not the rules specify usage.