When you attend a heavy equipment operator school, you’ll learn plenty about how to work large machines – but the best schools also place a huge emphasis on safety. Heavy equipment can be incredibly dangerous, not just to yourself, but to anyone in the area. A great heavy equipment operator doesn’t simply know how to work the controls; they know how to maintain control and awareness and preserve a safe working environment.
This is something we know all too well at 5th Wheel Training Institute. We pull our faculty and instructors from the industry, so that you can be trained by people who truly know about the realities of on-the-job work. This allows us to stress safety throughout your heavy equipment operator training, and help you become a better operator from the very start of your career!
These are the most important lessons we stress in training.
Ten Critical Safety Tips to Learn at Heavy Equipment Operator Training School
1 – Know your blind spots
No piece of large machinery is going to have perfect mirror placement. There are always blind spots, especially towards the rear of the vehicle. The bigger the machine, the bigger the blind spots tend to be. A good operator knows where their blind spots are and is always alert and aware if someone or something might be hidden from view.
2 – Always wear your safety belt(s)
It’s true in regular vehicles, and it’s true in heavy equipment as well. When you’re operating a large machine, you need be properly belted for your safety. This is particularly important in a larger elevated machine, such as a crane. You’ll be high enough off the ground that a fall could be crippling or fatal, so strapping in properly is a must.
3 – Maintaining communication
A heavy vehicle operator is never working alone. Even if the machine itself only requires one person to operate, you’ll still be working alongside numerous other people, with constant radio chatter to coordinate your efforts. Always maintain communication, and always listen to what the overseer says.
4 – Checking the area for hazards
A good construction crew boss is going to give you a detailed site survey and note areas that could be dangerous, such as unstable ground or low-hanging power lines. However, don’t take this on faith! Always look around the area for yourself, and make sure that there’s nothing potentially dangerous that was overlooked in your daily briefing.
5 – Always use three-point contact when mounting and dismounting
It’s easy for machine operators to get sloppy when they mount and dismount their equipment, such as jumping off the side rather than using the steps or ladder. This is a really good way to sprain your ankle, or worse, and end up unable to work! Always maintain three-point contact when getting on or off. That is, always have two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot, in contact with the machine. Never break three-point contact if you can avoid it.
6 – Know your load limits
Every heavy machine will have a maximum load that it can pick up, carry, drag, etc. Don’t exceed this! You should know the specific machine you’re working well enough to understand its load limits and point out to your supervisor if the job will be nearing or exceeding the limit. Otherwise, if the machine were to buckle under too much stress, the results would be disastrous.
7 – Know proper loading procedures
In many cases, a machine operator may not be personally responsible for loading materials. For example, typically a crane operator will stay in the cab while people on the ground set up loads for pick-up. However, you should always know the proper loading procedures! You may be called on to help, or you may need to be supervising people on the ground.
8 – Follow proper start-up and shut-down procedures
Turning a piece of heavy equipment on or off isn’t as simple as turning a key – and it shouldn’t be. If a large machine ever accidentally turned on without warning, it could cause major accidents. Know the start-up and shut-down procedures for each machine by heart, and never deviate from the checklist.
9 – Always conduct your own daily inspection
You shouldn’t ever simply hop aboard a large piece of machinery and assume it’ll be running properly. A lot can go wrong, even overnight. You should have a full checklist of things to inspect prior to starting your machine up, and you need to always follow it. This is how you prevent unexpected accidents from happening in the middle of a job!
10 – Know your limits
Finally, don’t overlook yourself and your own tolerances. Everyone has their own physical and mental limits or could be working a particularly stressful job that increases the difficulty. Don’t agree to a job you don’t feel mentally or physically capable of, or at least talk to the site overseer about getting spotters and other help. The last thing anyone wants is a heavy machine operator who falls asleep on the job or makes dumb mistakes in the moment.
5th Wheel Training Institute Helps You Follow Your Dreams!
If you want an exciting and lucrative career running heavy machinery, 5th Wheel Training Institute can make it affordable – and can potentially get you certified in just a few months. We’re one of the most respected heavy equipment operator training schools in Ontario, and a regular source of recruitment for construction companies looking for high-quality new hires.
We run classes year-round, so now might be the perfect time to start your new career! Click here to learn more about us.