Heavy equipment is a fact of life on construction jobs. Whether it’s a bulldozer, a scraper, a front loader, a forklift or a dump truck, the contractor would be nowhere without equipment. These machines, however, are as dangerous as they are useful. Improper safety and maintenance can result in deadly incidents. This is why it is vital to keep heavy equipment inspection guidelines on every job.
The guidelines published by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) are not very detailed when it comes to equipment inspections. However, there are general requirements that every job site must follow, so these are a good starting point for drafting your own checklist. OSHA guidelines include:
- Daily inspections
- Appropriate lights, barricades or reflectors to mark the vehicle
- Inspecting off-highway vehicles every shift
- Seat belts on all earthmoving equipment
- Well-trained inspectors
Inspections for equipment should include ensuring that it is in safe operating condition. All parts should be free from damage. Brakes, coupling devices, seat belts, parking system, safety devices and steering mechanisms should all be covered. In addition, conditional equipment such as fire suppression systems, lights, windshield wipers and defrosters should all be in solid working order.
Creating Your Own Checklist
These guidelines, however, are only the beginning of thorough inspection. While following them will keep you free from OSHA citations, they are certainly not the end of safety. Check the operation manuals for all of your equipment to see if there are detailed inspection recommendations.
If your equipment does not have these, discuss the issue with your equipment operators and create your own thorough checklist. You may want to even create several checklists for on-site use, general safety and systems. You can use the operating manual and OSHA guidelines to create detailed lists. Operators may also have important insight in those safety issues not covered elsewhere.
Introduction and Training
When your checklists are complete, call a meeting of all of your workers and go over what you have. Listen to any questions and concerns your employees may have and consider adjusting and updating your lists accordingly. Remember, the more detailed your list, the better your safety and risk of liability will be.
After finalizing your checklist, you will need to begin training. Each equipment operator should be thoroughly trained in your new safety and inspection procedures. This will ensure that no matter who is working the machine, they know the signs of risk and safety issues. It also ensures that in the event of illness or injury, there are multiple people who can perform adequate inspections.
Any number of accidents in the workplace should be viewed as unacceptable. The more rigorous you are in your safety procedures, the better off your workplace will be. Regular and thorough inspections will keep your job running smoothly and your workers safe. This translates into cost savings, both in maintenance and in liability claims. Do you have any specific recommendations for safety inspection checklists? If so, leave us a note in the comments below and let us hear your thoughts!