Top Ten Heavy Equipment Safety Tips for Incident Prevention

Heavy equipment or earth moving machines have been recently reported due to multiple accidents and fatalities. It is a must that all operators have identifiable and verifiable training on the equipment before operating. Accidents can happen to both the newly trained and seasoned veterans. 0065706

Tips to Avoid Equipment Accidents

For everyone’s safety especially those of the operators, here are ten important heavy equipment safety tips.

1. Blind spots

Heavy equipment operators have to be 100% sure that no one is behind them or in their blind spots when moving, even if this involves getting out of the machine and checking.  If vision is limited, have a spotter stand in a safe, visible position to guide and direct you. Inform those working around you for the day of your blind spots and require them to make eye contact with you before coming in the equipment’s vicinity. High visibility vests are mandatory on all sites.

2. Communication

Always be in constant communication with the people working around you. A two-way radio is the best form of communication, if that option is not available then use hand signals from a spotter who has been properly trained. Communication with operators should be touched upon at every safety meeting and reinforced by the foreman on site.

3. Seatbelts

Wearing your seatbelt in heavy equipment is just as important as in a moving motor vehicle. There is no excuse but laziness for not wearing it at all times. Not only will it save your life in the case of a rollover, it keeps you firmly in your seat when operating on rough terrain, saving energy and reducing close calls by the end of a long day.

4. Mounting and Dismounting

Falls and stepping on and off are some of the biggest causes of injury recorded by OSHA and other safety departments. This includes entering and exiting the cab of a machine. A good rule of thumb is to always maintain a 3 point contact when getting on or off of your equipment and never jump. The three Point Rule requires three of four points of contact to be maintained with the vehicle at all times – two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand.  If handholds or steps are damaged, replace them, it could prevent major injury over time.

5. Loading/Unloading Equipment

Always be sure to be on level ground when loading or unloading your equipment. It greatly reduces the risk of rollovers or sliding off the low-bed ramps. If you are unloading on a busy jobsite or high traffic area, make sure people are clear of the unloading area and use a spotter to guide you.


6. Overhead and Underground Hazards

Before work starts on any jobsite, all over-head obstructions such as power lines and low clearance should be identified and flagged.  Underground utilities such as water, sewer, gas, and electrical need to be located by the appropriate department and marked with colour coded paint. Play it safe when getting close to the underground utility and hand dig to uncover.  When leaving dugout holes that workers or the public can fall in to, be sure to set up barriers and snow fencing.

7. Lock-out/Tag-out

In accordance with OSHA, employers must train and have procedures in place to ensure that before any employee performs servicing or maintenance on a machine where unexpected start-up or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury, the machine or energy source must be rendered inoperative. This includes hazards such as pinch points, attachments, and raised loads. Picture warnings, locks, and tags are to be used to prevent any incidents.

8. Load Limits

Be aware of the load limits of varying equipment when operating different machines throughout the day. Depending on the equipment set-up and size the load limits can change drastically. When lifting objects with a machine make sure loads are secure with the proper rigging attachments, and always inspect to ensure they are in good working condition. As with most equipment operations, confirm all workers are at a safe distant when lifting and moving loads.

9. Walk-around Inspection

Equipment should be inspected at least once daily before operating. This involves walking around with a pre-developed checklist of components to check for good working order.  Hydraulic hoses, undercarriage, oil levels, stress points, etc. are all areas that need to be inspected and reported to the maintenance/safety department before machine start-up. Using a cloud-based mobile device to complete a task such as this can greatly improve communication and response time between operator and mechanic.

10.  Knowing your Limits

Operating heavy equipment can be a stressful job at times even for a seasoned veteran. Never put yourself in a situation you don’t feel comfortable in regardless of your instructions. Get out and look if unsure about working on a slope or around hazards.  Staying calm and alert throughout the day will allow you to be more productive will translate to a positive working environment for those around you.


As always, this list is only general guideline of things to keep in mind. Accidents can happen, but most are preventable incidents. Having regular safety meetings and up-to-date procedures and training will keep incidents down and work days more efficient.


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Showing 15 comments
  • Best backhoe loader

    Best tips to avoid accident at construction sites. Yes true accident can happen but prevention is always important.

  • Sharan

    It’s always best to make sure everything is clear when you do your thing. It’s also ideal to have the area cleared of worker before operating. Respecting the set maximum load of an equipment is a MUST. Manufacturers know what the equipment is capable of and is made with that kind of specifications.

    • Art Maat

      Great point Sharan. Manufacturers set the minimum required specifications. These should always be available to the operator. Nowadays, having these available instantly via smartphone is a must. Technology is now at the point where this should be happening for every operator in the world. Sadly, we’re not even close. Thank you Sharan for the comment.

  • Scott

    I like how you point out that it is important to walk around the equipment at least once a day before operating the it. I can understand why avoiding any accidents would be important to a company that is operating heavy machinery. I would imagine that having someone who checks the machines and makes sure they are operational would be helpful.

    • Art Maat

      Thanks Scott for the comment. Yes, safety of our people is the most important thing. It also helps with preventative equipment maintenance. It always costs more when something breaks down vs. preventing the breakdown with some minor repairs or maintenance.

  • Dennis Sanchez

    Thanks for this really informative article. In your article you wrote about being aware of the load limits of your equipment and making sure to use the proper rigging attachments. I have a project I want to do on my property and have been considering renting a tractor. It is very important to me that everyone involved with the job stays safe and acknowledges the limits of the machines.

    • Art Maat

      Thank you Dennis for the comment. We agree, the most important thing every day is that we all go home to our families. Did you end up renting the tractor?

  • Nipul Dodia

    All the ten points are important for prevention of accidents. As per my view the most important points are loading/unloading equipment, communication and walk around inspection. Moreover, yourself, take care is also an important thing in any construction site.

    • Art Maat

      Thank you for the comment, Nipul. Are you involved in helping create a culture of safety at Solid?

  • James Bergman

    I would add a walk-around inspection after operating the equipment as well as before. It isn’t totally necessary, but it doesn’t hurt. The sooner problems are found the faster they can be fixed.

    • Art Maat

      Great addition James. Thank you for your comment. Yes, going over and above to keep people safe is never a bad idea. We heard a great comment once, “Safety is not a checkbox for being in compliance, it’s a state of mind”. Thanks again for the comment, we appreciate your feedback and we know our community does too.

  • Heightsafe Systems Ltd

    Many thanks for sharing heavy equipment safety tips on this article, Keep sharing this type of informative blog. I am looking to read more post from you.

  • Yilliang Peng

    Thanks for the information regarding heavy industrial equipment safety. I think that it is really important, especially when working with repairs, to make sure you take your time and stay safe. It is great to know that everyone does not rush the repairs and makes sure they do it efficiently. Thanks again!

    • Chuck Dietrich

      Thanks so much for the comment, Yilliang. Yes, doing something safely and correctly the first time sure has many advantages. Thanks again for the comment.

  • Braden Bills

    It makes sense that you would want to be careful when it comes to earthmoving. There is a lot of potential for danger if you don’t know what you are doing! It’s important to make sure that the equipment you get is properly safe.