Safety Alert - Excavator Safety

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Excavators, backhoes and other digging plant can lead to serious workplace accidents that can result in equipment and property damage, serious injury or even death.  In the 10 years spanning 2003 to 2012, 25 workers have died from injuries involving this equipment (safe work Australia).  In 2012, excavators were also responsible for the deaths of 3 pedestrians (safe work Australia).  While self-propelled plant serves the important purpose of easily moving soil or rock on a site, they pose a wide variety of hazards including ground collapse, water inrush, falls, hazardous manual tasks, airborne contaminants, buried contaminants, and underground services.  It’s important to ensure that each self-propelled plant operator has been trained and is considered competent.  Non-operator workers present in areas with self-propelled plant traffic should also be familiar with working safely around these vehicles.

Do you have similar safety risks in your workplace?

  • Does your business have a need to utilize self-propelled plant equipment?
  • Have you ever observed self-propelled plant equipment being operated in an unsafe manner either by coworkers or other contractors?
  • Are there pedestrian workers and other equipment operators working on job-sites within close proximity to excavators?

How to prevent incidents in the workplace

  • Train all excavator operators, this should include formal classroom training and a field test.
  • Ensure that nearby workers are familiar with working around heavy mobile equipment.
  • Train supervisors to lookout for unsafe practices amongst operators and to retrain employees as necessary.
  • Ensure that each worksite has been evaluated for site specific hazards and appropriate adjustments have been made minimize or eliminate these hazards.
  • Develop an inspection checklist to ensure that equipment is operating as intended.
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