Heavy Equipment Construction Safety Tips

Heavy equipment is a necessity on nearly every construction project. Unfortunately, they can be extremely dangerous when not used properly. Rollovers, struck by accidents and caught in or between accidents are common ways workers can be injured when working on or near heavy equipment.

Follow these safety tips when working with heavy equipment on the construction site to ensure you stay productive and maintain an accident-free jobsite:


Workers should be trained on the proper procedures to safely operate all pieces of equipment they will be working on. Training should be conducted as a combination of classroom and practical hands-on instruction. Topics that should be covered include safety, hazard identifications, safety features of the equipment and safe maneuvering of the heavy equipment.

Workers should be trained on how to safely mount and dismount and the proper start up procedure for each piece of equipment. They should have a clear understanding of lifting loads and load capacity for the equipment they will be working on. Retraining and refresher courses should be conducted as needed, especially if a worker is observed operating equipment unsafely or in a manner other than its intended purpose. Only trained workers should be allowed to operate equipment for any reason.

Be aware of your surroundings

When operating heavy equipment, you need to mindful of the area you are working in and any obstacles you may encounter. Overhead power lines should be deenergized, or if that’s not possible, establish barriers to avoid making contact with them. If digging, make sure that all underground utilities, such as sewer, water, gas and electrical, have been identified and clearly marked to avoid damaging them and creating delays and more work.

Whenever possible, workers should be kept out of areas where heavy equipment is in operating. Operators should be aware of their swing radius, especially when working in tighter spaces, to avoid hitting other workers, bystanders, or other vehicles or equipment in the vicinity.

Entering and exiting equipment

This one should go without saying, but based on the number of injuries workers suffer each year, but there is a right and a wrong way to mount and dismount from heavy equipment. When climbing onto equipment, always maintain three points of contact just like you do when climbing a ladder. Never carry anything with you as you enter or exit the cab. Never jump out of the cab or off the equipment to exit.

Never enter or exit equipment that is moving or in operation. Make sure you completely shut off the equipment, engage the parking brake and release any pressure from hydraulic controls. Make sure to take the keys with you to avoid any unauthorized use.

Conduct a visual inspection before use

Visually inspect heavy equipment before each use to ensure it’s in good operating condition. Check tires and tracks for any wear and damage. At the very least, you should check fluid levels such as engine oil and hydraulic fluid and oil levels before you start up the equipment for the first time each day. Check hydraulic hoses, buckets, booms and other components for cracks and damage. Make sure all attachments are securely locked into place.

When you fire up the equipment, make sure the lights, gauges, horn and backup alarms are all working properly. Make sure all arms, shovels, buckets, etc. fully extend in all directions. If the cab rotates, check to make sure it can do so in all directions. Never use equipment that isn’t working properly or appears damaged. Not only could you damage the machine further, but it could be a major safety issue if not fixed before use.

Only use equipment for its intended purpose

Each piece of equipment was designed to perform a specific task. Excavators aren’t cranes and wheel loaders weren’t made to carry workers in the bucket and used as an aerial lift. Pick the right piece of equipment for the task at hand and use it as the manufacturer intended.

Don’t overload or overwork equipment. Be mindful of the payload or lift capacity of the equipment. This may require getting a bigger piece of equipment if what you have isn’t enough to get the job done. If lifting material, make sure all riggings are properly secured. Don’t try to go too fast when operating equipment, especially on slopes.

Always wear your seatbelt

Those seatbelts aren’t just a suggestion, they could save your life. In the event the equipment starts to tip or roll over, the seatbelt is probably going to keep you alive. If equipment starts to tip or roll over, you might instinctively be compelled to jump out of the cab. Unfortunately, that is the worst thing you could possibly do. The equipment could tip back the other way and fall on as you make your escape or you could get caught or flung out as it rolls over and seriously injured.

The rollover protection system installed on the equipment is intended to keep you safe in such an event. The seatbelt will keep you from getting jostled around and banged up or flung from the cab.

Keep the area clear

Ideally, you can cordon off the area with barriers to keep workers from accidentally getting in close proximity to operating equipment. If you are moving or operating equipment near workers use a spotter, using radio or hand signals to communicate, to keep your blind spots clear. This is especially important when backing up. Yes, the equipment will have backup alarms, but they often go unheeded on construction sites due to their prevalence.

Other tips to remember

Always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, safety glasses, sturdy boots and hard hats.

When loading and unloading equipment at the site, make sure you do it on level ground to avoid rollovers when getting it on or off the truck or trailer.

Follow lock-out/tag-out procedures when servicing or performing maintenance on equipment. Make sure parking brakes are engaged and use chocks to block the wheels.

Working with or around heavy equipment should be part of your overall safety program. All workers should be trained on the dangers and hazards of working with heavy equipment.


30 thoughts on “Heavy Equipment Construction Safety Tips

    1. A lot of courses offer certification or documentation that a person has successfully completed training.

  1. I really appreciate the tip to unloading on level ground. I’ve seen a crane that was unloading a large concrete pipe set it down on a slight incline, and it started to roll. I was wondering if there was any specific laws about this, and I ended up reading this article. I think only trained professional crane operators should be able to operate this heavy equipment.

  2. All great points. Another point to consider is operator fatigue. Even if your operators are properly trained, qualified and current, fatigue can lead to accidents also.

  3. It’s constantly best to ensure everything is clear when you do your thing. It’s additionally perfect to have the area cleared of specialist before working. Regarding the set greatest load of an equipment is a MUST. Manufacturers realize what the equipment is able to do and is made with that sort of specifications.

  4. One of the craziest things I’ve seen is a tractor that slid backwards, brakes locked, down a slighly sloped river embankment and ended up in the river. A light rain made the grassy embankment slick as ice. Be careful out there!

  5. I can definitely see why spatial awareness would be extremely important when operating a crane. I am always amazed at the ingenuity behind the skyscrapers whenever I travel to the city. It’s incredible to think that the creation of stronger and more powerful cranes lead to the the ease of creating taller structures.

  6. Our son is thinking about working in the construction industry, and I wanted to know more about how to stay safe while working with construction equipment. It is good to know that one should only use equipment for its intended purpose. I like what was said about how each piece of equipment was designed to perform a specific task. I will be sure to share this information with our son, thanks.

  7. I like how you talk about not overloading or overworking equipment. My cousin rented a digging machine to help with some of his landscaping. He’s installing some water ways for his farm. He’ll have to be careful not over work the machines.

  8. In the construction domain, well-maintained hydraulic hoses play a vital role in smooth flow of work. Besides checking the hydraulic hoses from time-to-time, you must know how to maintain hydraulic hoses.

  9. Valuable points. Again trained personal name must be displayed, equipment fitness certificate and color coding must be displayed, and Stickers must be placed on helmet to identify the work force. Reverse camera and sirens fitted to ensure adequate safety.

  10. All points shared by you are very important and cannot be neglected to ensure safety while working with heavy equipment. Proper training to workers is essential to avoid any danger. Thanks for sharing the tips!!!

  11. Thanks for the tip to use a spotter, radio, and hand signals when moving heavy equipment near workers. I think that working with a heavy machinery transportation company would also be a good way to move heavy equipment. Keeping safety the top priority and having a clear area are important things to do when moving large machinery.

  12. I like the tips mentioned above. Safety measures matter a lot during the during the process of heavy equipment constructions.

  13. I found it really interesting how a big part of keeping workers safe while on the job is how they enter heavy machinery, especially the tip of the three points of contact. I do rock climbing as one of my hobbies and there is a rule very similar to that in rock climbing, where three points of contact are safe enough to give you confidence to relax your muscles. If I was in charge of heavy machinery, I would be sure to tell my employees to always have three points of contact to be safe!

  14. I really appreciate your advice to try and do a visual inspection before using any equipment. I don’t work in construction but I totally agree that a quick inspection can save you some injury. If I ever work with heavy machinery, I will be sure to do a visual inspection!

  15. I really like that you mentioned that while moving heavy equipment, you really need to be aware of your surroundings. My uncle is needing to move heavy equipment. I will make sure to tell him about this right away.

  16. I really liked your tip to conduct a visual inspection before you use any heavy construction equipment. I am going to be using some heavy equipment, so I am searching for everything I need to know in order to stay safe. I will be sure to inspect the equipment every time prior to use, so I can be safe.

  17. I like the tip that you gave to conduct a visual inspection of the equipment before each use. My boss is having me operate the crane tomorrow morning at our construction site, and I want to make sure that I can stay as safe as possible. I will be sure to do a visual inspection of the crane before I use it, so I can be confident that I am safe.

  18. Working with or around heavy equipment should be part of your overall safety program. All workers should be trained on the dangers and hazards of working with heavy equipment.

  19. Useful tips to know, safety measures matter a lot during construction, especially using such Heavy Machinery

Leave a Reply