Do you want to save money on your construction project? No problem – just pick up an excavator, dozer, trencher, or lift from your local power equipment rental company. Keep in mind, though, if you end up in the hospital or worse from a catastrophic injury, you will lose far more money than you would have spent for hiring an expert.
Everyone on the site is depending on you to get it right. If you injure someone else, you could be facing a whopping claim filed by one of thebest personal injury lawyersthat money can buy.
The number of unnecessary fatalities and injuries that occur at construction sites is staggering, and most of the accidents occur due to preventable human errors.
Whether you are a pro or a do-it-yourselfer who has leased a machine from your local power equipment rental company, there are some basic safety measures you need to take to prevent serious injury.
Have an Incident Management Plan:
Plan for the worst so you and your family will be ready, no matter what happens. You can never quite predict when an accident will occur, so you need a plan to get help for your workers or yourself immediately if an accident occurs.
Get Training: Make sure you know enough about the piece of equipment to operate it safely.
It is not the best kind of equipment for trial and error, because it can be dangerous for both the operator and other workers. Also, make sure you understand some of the essential mechanical aspects. You may not need mechanic level expertise, but you should at least be able to identify anything that may be an issue.
You are in charge and must remain vigilant at all times while operating heavy machinery. Have a good feel for your surroundings and take into consideration any obstacles or dangerous spots. Watch for power lines, trees, barriers, sewer, gas, water, and electrical lines.
Know What’s Below:
For homeowners in the US, call 811 before you begin any excavation project.
- Notifyyour local one-call center bycalling 811or making an online request 2-3 days before you plan to dig. The one-call center will transmit information to affected utility operators.
- Wait2-3 days for affected utility operators to respond to your request. On average, between 7-8 utility operators are notified for each request.
- Confirmthat all affected utility operators have responded to your request by comparing the marks to the list of utilities the one-call center notified.
State laws vary on the process for confirmation; please check with your local one-call center for more information.
- Respect the marks.The marks provided by the affected utility operators are your guide for the duration of your project.
If you are unable to maintain the marks during your project, or the project will continue past your request’s expiration date (varies by state), please call 811 to ask for a re-mark.
- Dig Carefully!If you can avoid digging near the marks (within 18-24 inches on all sides, depending onstate law), consider moving your project to another part of your yard. If you must dig near the marks or use machinery of any kind, pleaseclick hereto read “The 811 Process for Contractors.”
Take Care when Mounting and Dismounting Equipment:
A common cause of injury on construction sites is falling from heavy machines. Falling objects are also a significant cause of concern. Be careful when mounting or dismounting heavy machines. Make sure you have a good grip and use hand holes, as well as steps at all times. Do not carry unnecessary equipment into the cab, and never get off while the machine is moving unless your life is in danger.
Inspect Equipment Before Use
Think about inspecting the equipment much as you would before taking your car on a road trip. Look at the tires, check fluid levels, and ensure it has sufficient engine oil. Also, make sure the moving parts are working well and all accessories are secured.
If you see there is a problem and it is outside your area of expertise, let the professionals take care of any serious issues before you use the equipment. Remember; put the machine in park when performing any maintenance services.
Wear Safety Gear
When you are working with heavy machinery, you need to wear the right protective gear. Goggles, hard hats, gloves, and boots can help preserve life and limb. Other protective gear includes high visibility clothing and fall protection equipment. As an attorney who has handled permanent brain injury cases which were caused by heavy equipment accidents, I can tell you that you absolutely do not want to compromise your safety just because the protective gear is uncomfortable.
And wear the seat belt! You never know when the seatbelt could save your life. There have been cases where the heavy equipment tips over and the saving grace for the operator is the seatbelt. Even if it does not tip over, you could avoid some severe bumps and bruises by having your belt on.
Avoid Blind Spots
Anyone who is operating heavy machinery must ensure that they have a clear view on all sides. If you have a blind spot, get the help of a colleague to spot for you. He or she will direct you to a safe position.
Communication is Critical
You must ensure that you keep the channels of communication open for everyone who is on the construction site through phones or radios. When your team is well informed, they can avoid dangerous areas and inform the others as well.
Every Machine Was Designed for a Specific Purpose
If you are old enough to remember the Red Green Show, you know Green’s motto was “Any tool can be the right tool.” It was funny because we all know how untrue this is, especially when it comes to chainsaws and heavy equipment.
You might be tempted to use a piece of equipment for something outside of what the manufacturer intended. For instance, a lawnmower makes a lousy, as well as dangerous, hedge trimmer.
While you might be tempted to find multiple uses for the equipment you have leased to get the biggest bang for the buck, it is a really bad idea when it comes to heavy machinery.
To stay on the safe side, trust the equipment manufacturers and the rental company reps and stick to their recommendations.
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.