360 Excavator Hazards
On September 27, a falling tree crashed through the cab of a 360 excavator, killing the 47-year-old Irish father within. While falling debris poses a major hazard for excavator operators, it is one of several causes of injury or death. If you work with a 360 excavator, learn to recognize these top 6 hazards to help keep yourself and others around you safe. Learn the top six excavator hazards to look out for when hazard spotting in this excavator safety blog post.
Excavator Hazard: Struck by Bucket or Debris
Falling debris poses a significant risk to both the excavator operator and nearby pedestrians. Material from a load could dislodge and strike workers or civilians located too close to the machine. Likewise, the debris could strike an operator if they use an open cab excavator.
Besides the falling debris, buckets can pose a serious threat to safety and well-being. An operator unaware of a nearby pedestrian could strike or crush them when turning or lowering the bucket arm.
An operator could also put themselves at risk by attempting to leave an active machine with the bucket arm lowered. A simple jostling of the controls can make the arm lower unexpectedly and crush anyone beneath it.
Excavator Hazard: Trenching Accidents and Cave-Ins
Trenching accidents occur when the ground cannot support the changes in pressure caused by excavation. The weight of the machine can cause loose dirt to shift, which in turn can tip the machine.
Other trenching accidents result from improper trenching techniques or unskilled workers trying too complicated techniques. These can include attempting to straddle a trench or using the bucket arm to climb down the side of a trench.
In addition to trenching accidents, excavator use can lead to cave-ins, endangering the lives of workers near them. Without proper trenching protection, the dirt can shift and collapse onto an unsuspecting worker. Workers may be at risk if they enter a trench while excavation is still underway.
Excavator Hazard: Machine Rollovers
Machine rollovers can occur at any moment if the operator isn’t being safe. As mentioned before, the ground giving out beneath the machine can cause rollovers. Other causes include traveling too quickly, traveling on a too-steep slope, and traveling with the attachments improperly lowered.
Not using proper safety equipment multiplies the lethality of a rollover. The sudden movement of a rollover can eject an operator if they don’t use the safety belts/harnesses or even leave the cab door open. Furthermore, an operator could be putting themselves at further risk if they attempt to exit the machine mid-roll over.
Excavator Hazard: Contact with Power Lines
While regulations dictate that machines must stay at least 20 feet away from nearby power lines, electrocution still kills many excavator operators. Generally, contact occurs when operators fail to check if they have enough overhead clearance.
When a worker strikes a power line, they might panic and let go of the controls for a moment. When they attempt to touch the controls again or exit the machine, they get electrocuted. Besides the operator, any worker who attempts to approach the electrified machine might get shocked as well.
Excavator Hazard: Run Over by Machine
An operator might back up over a pedestrian they weren’t aware of, or they might run over a worker who had tripped in front of them. Either way, these accidents occur because of a lapse in attention on both the operator’s side and the pedestrian’s side.
Other accidents can occur when the machine moves unexpectedly. This can happen when the operator failed to engage a parking brake or if the machine slides on unsteady ground.
Excavator Hazard: Maintenance Errors
When operators fail to properly maintain their machines, they put themselves and those nearby at risk. Even a misplaced lock pin could make a heavy component come loose and crush someone. In addition to misplaced components, unauthorized changes to the machine threaten its overall operational or structural integrity.
360 Excavator Training
Learning to recognize when a hazardous situation is one thing. Knowing what to do to avert a disaster is another. Safety Provisions and Hard Hat Training offers a comprehensive 360 Excavator safety training as well as a new mini excavator training. Our trainings cover basic excavator regulations, machine anatomy, and safe operations as well as address common hazards.
Purchase any of our online, classroom kit, or train the trainer excavator courses from our 360 excavator training page.
Excavator Training Video
Good luck and stay safe!