Operating heavy equipment—most demolition contractors will tell you it’s one of the best parts of their job. What kid doesn’t dream of running a dump truck or sky-high crane? To tear down buildings, we use extremely powerful, specialized demolition equipment, including high reach excavators with crushing, cutting, and hammering attachments. However, heavy equipment operation is also one of the most accident-prone aspects of our work. In this blog we outline heavy equipment safety. We also cover OSHA safety tips for demolition work.
General Heavy Equipment Safety. In general, every vehicle must have a service brake, an emergency brake, and a parking brake. Headlights, taillights, and brake lights must be in good working order. Vehicles must have an audible horn and an intact windshield with operational wipers.
Additional Heavy Equipment Safety Guidelines
- Thoroughly train operators on the equipment they will use.
- Check and Inspect vehicles before each shift.
- Vehicles that are operated in reverse should have an audible alarm.
- For top-loading vehicles, cab shields or canopies must be in place to protect the operator.
- Seats must be firmly secured, and they must have seatbelts.
- Rollover and protection from falling hazards should be in place.
- Be careful of overhead lines and verify that the roadway or grade is stable and safe.
Forklift and Powered Industrial Truck (PIT) Operations. Only take on loads that are within the rated capacity of the vehicle. Use rough-terrain vehicles as conditions require. Ascend and descend grades slowly. Ensure the load-engaging mechanisms are fully lowered when not in operation.
Crane Operation. Make sure a competent individual properly inspects the crane before and during use. Any deficiencies or defective parts must be fixed or replaced prior to running the crane. Post recommended operating speed, load capacity, and other instructions near the operator cab. Position cranes on firm and level surfaces. Use hand signals and double check that the area is clear before the crane is in use.
Portland Industrial Demolition: Worker Safety
OHSA has developed a number of worker safety guidelines that are available as activity sheets for supervisors and the general public. Here are some tips culled from OSHA resources, including procedures for specific demolition dangers.
General Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)–General PPE is recommended for all demolition workers. This includes a hardhat, eye protection, gloves, ANSI-approved footwear, and breathing masks as necessary. Additional specialized PPE may be required for hazardous demolition work. High-visibility apparel and headgear is required in work zones.
Demolition Danger #1: Material Falling From Vehicles. To avoid this danger, do not overload vehicles, and ensure loads are balanced and fully contained. Trim, cover, and secure loads before moving vehicles.
Demolition Danger #2: Silica, Silt, Dust, and Dried Mud. To avoid inhaling these respiratory irritants, advise workers to stay upwind or away from dust generating particles; use water spray; and avoid using compressed air for cleaning. Use N, R, or P95 respirators when working with materials that contain silica.
Demolition Danger #3: Noise. Use heavy equipment with noise-reducing, enclosed cabs when possible. Place generators and other noise-generating equipment at a distance, or behind barriers. Use personal hearing protection when noise levels exceed 90 dBA.
Demolition Danger #4: Fueling. Ignition sources must remain 25 feet away from fueling areas. Prohibit smoking in fueling areas, and make certain that no vehicles are left unattended while fueling.
Demolition Danger #5: Unknown Chemicals. Upon discovering unknown chemicals, ban the use of spark-inducing equipment within 25 feet. Take self-protective measures and contact Hazard Waste Disposal professionals. Evaluate the need to revise Personal Protective Equipment requirements.
Increasingly, demolition contractors are called upon to clean up emergencies, such as natural disasters. Elder Demolition stands by its commitment to environmental, industrial, and worker safety, and we have a track record of responsible response to environmental and industrial hazards.