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Workplace Safety


By May 1, 2009No Comments

Countless hazards can arise when workers are operating materials handling equipment on the jobsite. However, if operators and surrounding workers practice the proper safety guidelines, you can keep your jobsite free and clear of danger.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), there are two different categories of materials handling equipment: Earthmoving equipment and lifting and hauling equipment. OSHA provides safety guidelines for each of these types of vehicles. You can ensure a hazard-free jobsite by requiring your workers to follow these rules:

Earthmoving equipment safety

According to OSHA, earthmoving equipment is any type of equipment that moves dirt around, although some of these machines are also used as equipment haulers. This includes loaders, scrapers, wheel tractors, bulldozers, crawler tractors, off-highway trucks, agricultural and industrial tractors, graders and similar equipment. OSHA’s safety rules for earthmoving equipment are as follows:

  • Seat belts must be provided on all equipment as designated by OSHA. However, seat belts are not necessary on equipment designed only for stand up operation or equipment without a roll-over protective structure (ROPS) or adequate canopy protection.
  • No construction equipment or vehicles should be driven on access roadways and grades unless the area is specifically designed to withstand the equipment. Additionally, every emergency access ramp and berm must be constructed to restrain and control any possible runaway vehicles.
  • All machines that move in two directions, including rollers, front-end loaders, bulldozers and compacters, must be equipped with an audible horn. The horn must be loud enough to be heard over the other jobsite noise and should be used whenever the operator is moving the equipment in either direction.
  • If earthmoving or compacting equipment has an obstructed view to the rear, this equipment should not be moved in reverse unless it either has a reverse signal alarm that is loud enough to be heard over the jobsite noise or another worker signals the operator that it is safe to reverse.
  • All earthmoving equipment must be equipped with service brakes that operate even when the equipment is fully loaded.
  • Scissor points on all front-end loaders must be guarded.

Lifting and hauling equipment safety

OSHA defines lifting and hauling equipment as equipment that moves raw materials around a jobsite. This might include industrial trucks, forklifts, stackers, telescopic handlers and other similar equipment. The OSHA safety requirements for this type of equipment are as follows:

  • Never exceed capacity ratings for equipment.
  • The rated capacity must be clearly posted on lift trucks, stackers and similar vehicles so that the operator can see it. When adding auxiliary removable counterweights provided by the manufacturer, the vehicle’s capacity must be adjusted accordingly and posted.
  • Do not attach steering or spinner knobs to the steering wheel unless the steering mechanism can prevent road reactions from causing the steering wheel to spin. If so, you must mount the steering knob within the periphery of the wheel.
  • Only authorized workers can ride on powered industrial trucks. Those who are authorized to ride must be provided with a safe place to ride.
  • You must receive the manufacturer’s written approval before making any modifications or additions that might affect the capacity or safe operation of equipment. If you receive approval to make these changes, you should change the capacity, operation and maintenance instruction plates or tags accordingly.

When materials handling equipment comes into play on the jobsite, workers can face a myriad of potential dangers. OSHA requires that operators of equipment and machinery must be qualified by training or experience to operate that equipment. If you want to keep your jobsite clear and free of danger, ensure that only experienced workers operate equipment. You should also constantly reinforce OSHA’s safety regulations with all equipment operators as well as surrounding workers.