Excavator Safety Checklist

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SERV Plant Hire - Excavator Safety Checklist

Before using any kind of excavator all operators should understand the importance of a full excavator safety checklist. In common with all heavy plant equipment, excavators are powerful machines that can present a host of dangers if used incorrectly. Despite the wide range of excavator types and sizes, there are common rules of use that, if observed correctly, can minimise risks. In the case of excavator hire, the hire company themselves will conduct regular inspections and excavator safety checks. However, this does not free the operator from all responsibility. During use they should observe safe working practices and be aware of any potential hazards. Below we will discuss the key points to be aware of before, during and after use to ensure the safest possible operation.

Before Use Excavator Safety Checklist

  1. Check the area to be worked on. Ensure any large rocks, loose materials and tree stumps are removed before work begins if possible. If these can not be removed, be aware of any hazard they may present during work. Check for any holes, ditches or inclines that could compromise stability.
  2. If working in a new area, consult local utility companies about any drains, water pipes or electrical lines that may be present. If these exist, make sure markers are in place to warn the operator of their presence. This will avoid costly accidental damage or risk of electrocution.
  3. Use barriers or fencing to create a pedestrian exclusion zone around the work area. Most fatal excavator accidents are the result of unwitting pedestrians being struck or trapped during operation.
  4. Make sure fuel and hydraulic fluid are at high enough levels. Either running out can cause sudden stops that could damage the equipment and endanger workers.
  5. Conduct an excavator walk around inspection for any signs of wear or damage that could affect performance. Check for any loose bolts or fittings and make sure any excavator attachment being used is securely attached. Ensure mirrors are clean and properly positioned.
  6. There are many types of excavator attachments, each suited to a particular task. Make sure the right one is fitted for the work being carried out.
  7. Before use, check that all controls, brakes and steering are working and performing properly. Horns and lights to warn other workers of your presence should be working correctly.
  8. Most importantly, the operator should be trained in the use of the excavator and familiar with the manual and any manufacturers guidelines. They should also be trained in the correct, safe use of any attachments being used.

During Use Excavator Safety Checklist

  1. Operators should always wear the correct safety gear, well-fitting clothing and seatbelts.
  2. Excavators only have room for one operator. No additional passengers should be carried in the cab or on the outside of the excavator.
  3. While traversing the work area, try to travel on level ground as much as possible. Keep the bucket low to the ground for increased visibility and stay aware of any other workers nearby. If other workers are present, they should work facing the excavator and stay aware of its movements.
  4. When working on sloped surfaces, tracks should never be parallel to the slope to reduce the chance of the excavator tipping over. Travel head on to the slope (never diagonally), with the boom and arm extended and the bucket rolled out low to the ground. This lowers the centre of gravity and increases stability. If the excavator begins to slide backwards, the bucket can be dropped to grip the ground and stop sliding. If possible, dig a shelf out of the slope to give a level work area for the excavator. Material dug away from the upper slope can be used to fill in the lower slope and build up a level surface.
  5. Keep your speed low on rough terrain or in congested areas and avoid any sudden stops. In congested areas, stay aware of tailswing that could damage property or injure others. Again, keep the bucket low to the ground for increased stability and visibility.
  6. Always try to work with propel motors to the rear for added stability and never dig below the excavator. This may seem obvious but is easily done inadvertently and has been the cause of many accidents.
  7. If soil or other material becomes stuck to the bucket, never attempt to dislodge it by banging against the floor or other objects. This can damage the bucket and endanger other workers with flying dislodged material.
  8. If loading material into trucks, this should always be done from the rear. Any material accidentally dropped into the truck or on the surrounding ground. Loading from the front can lead to dropped material landing on the cab, causing damage and injuring the driver.
  9. Avoid cave – ins while digging trenches by keeping the excavator level to ensure a level trench. Dump any removed material as far away as possible from the trench to prevent backspill.
  10. Should a cave – in occur, keep the excavator tracks at a 90 degree angle to the hole when backfilling.

After Use Excavator Safety Checklist

  1. Always park the excavator on a solid, level surface with the bucket lowered to the ground.
  2. Turn off auto idle and set the rpm to low idle before shutting down the engine.
  3. Run the engine at low throttle for a couple of minutes before shutting down, this gives the turbocharger a chance to cool down.
  4. Remove the keys and lock the cab to prevent theft or unauthorised operation.
  5. Disembark facing the excavator, do not jump down.

For further information on the legal obligations of excavator users, see https://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/excavators.htm

SERV Plant Hire are plant and machinery specialists offering a huge variety of equipment for hire to the North West of England. We have a wide range of micro, mini and midi excavators for hire, with attachments to suit any need. All our construction equipment is fully certified and serviced and we are happy to answer any queries on operation and safe use of our equipment. Contact us to ensure you have the best equipment for the job.

Excavator Hire

We offer a wide range of excavators for all kinds of jobs from established manufacturers such as Takeuchi and Volvo.