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What Is an Excavator?

Excavators are adaptable machines that can be utilized for any number of job sites. Excavators are used for more than just digging, including tasks such as demolition, river dredging, landscaping, or even lifting heavy objects. Mistakes and bad habits can have serious consequences for operators and other professionals. If they want to keep themselves and the people they work with safe, excavator operators need to go through extensive safety training.

Safety Advice for Excavators

Although excavators have many safety features, there is no guarantee they will always function properly. To fully utilize the features of your machine and protect both your safety and the safety of your team, use good judgment at all times.

The majority of fatalities and severe accidents with excavators involve running into a pedestrian. The potential dangers extend further. A person could become trapped by slewing between an excavator and a stationary object or vehicle. A pedestrian may be struck by a moving bucket or other attachment or if an excavator’s bucket accidentally collapses.

It’s crucial to understand all of the ways to keep a workplace safe when you handle heavy machinery. Here is some safety advice that you should be aware of when using an excavator:

Safety Tips

It’s preferable to carry out these tips before operating the machine to avoid any accidents. Consider the following safety advice before operating your excavator:

  1. Seat belts are for your comfort and safety.
  2. Make sure the mirrors are clean and properly adjusted.
  3. Inspect the controls to verify that they are functioning correctly.
  4. Examine the propulsion system.

Following the pre-operation safety advice for excavators, do the following:

  1. Never let passengers inside the cab, bucket, or any other part of the vehicle. There is only one seat on an excavator, and that seat is for the operator.
  2. Only attempt to operate the excavator while you are seated and in complete control.
  3. Slow down the excavator when working in crowded areas or on difficult terrain.
  4. Remember to keep all soil piles at least 2 feet away from the trench or excavation to avoid cave-in.
  5. If you’re excavating on a hill, dig a shelf (or bench cut) to level the equipment.
  6. Utilizing the materials left over from the higher slope, the lower slope can be raised and leveled.
  7. Cut enough of the upper bank away from steep bench cuts to enable adequate swing clearance when throwing downslope.
  8. Never dig beneath the excavation.
  9. The excavator’s tracks and propel motors should be at a 90° angle to the excavation when backfilling a cave-in.
  10. Never swing the excavator bucket or the truck cab when loading trucks.
  11. Never try to clean an excavator’s bucket by slamming it against the ground or another object.

After safely finishing your workday, take into account the following post-operation safety advice:

  1. To help the turbocharger cool down, turn off the auto-idle switch and run the engine for a few minutes at half throttle with no load.
  2. When turning off the machine, make sure it is parked on a flat area with the bucket attachment lowered.
  3. Before turning off the engine using the key switch, lower the RPM to low idle.
  4. When leaving the equipment, remember to lock the cab.

What Is the 5-Foot Rule for Excavation?

Trenches that are 5-feet deep or deeper need a protection system. A competent person may decide that a protective device is not necessary if the depth is less than 5-feet. Additionally, any trench longer than 5-feet needs to be protected from collapse. If an employee is under 5-feet tall, a competent person can decide that a protective system is necessary.

Know Your Equipment

It’s essential to enter the buying or renting process knowing the many types of excavators, including their capabilities and their drawbacks. The size of the different models is what most distinguishes them from one another because size is frequently correlated with mobility range and lift and dig capabilities. Depending on the working conditions and demands of the job, you’ll need a different kind of excavator.

What To Consider Before Selecting an Excavator

To make sure you have the appropriate excavator for the task, consider the following factors before calling your equipment rental or sales company.

The weight of the materials you’ll be hauling will determine the size of the excavator you’ll need. Take the following capabilities into consideration:

Is the landscape at your workplace empty and flat? Or is it a densely populated urban area with many buildings and other challenges? The sort of machine and attachments you’ll need to finish the task both safely and effectively will depend on the terrain of your jobsite.

Make sure the excavator you select has the capacity for the bucket size needed for the job. The excavator’s maximum operational weight is something you should know. An excavator that is too heavy can damage your site. Your required digging depth and length will heavily influence the size and kind of excavator you need to use.

Differences Between a Mini Excavator and a Standard Excavator

Just as the name implies, a mini excavator is smaller than an ordinary excavator. Often known as the compact excavator, the mini excavator has a reduced or even zero tail-swing, which enables tight turns. Mini excavators can maneuver in small, confined, or narrow job sites, such as parking lots.

When the operator needs to steer the excavator through limited space, mini excavators have a narrower undercarriage that can be further compressed. Because it is lighter than a normal excavator, a mini excavator is easier to move from one worksite to another. An added bonus, a mini excavator uses less gasoline.

Reducing Danger with Heavy Equipment

As we discussed earlier, it is necessary to select the best excavator for the job. There are a few key actions that lower excavator risks.

Maintenance and Inspection of an Excavator

A well-kept machine is less likely to break down, which saves you time, money, and stress. Proper care will also drastically extend the lifespan of your excavator. There are two different methods for regular machine maintenance: routine and preventive. Both need regular checkups with the machine but are very different in their effectiveness.

Routine maintenance refers to when an excavator is periodically sent for a maintenance check-up. This involves replacing worn components including belts, fluids, and filters. Every machine has a maintenance plan that specifies when and which parts need to be replaced.

A preventative maintenance program attempts to repair the problem before it occurs. Whereas routine maintenance programs use consistency to avoid failures. Being familiar with the equipment you are maintaining is essential because preventive maintenance relies on seeing issues early on. Confirm that every operator has had the necessary training before they are allowed to operate an excavator.

At Hard Hat Training, our online excavator certification and training course is OSHA Aligned and up to date. Your employees will learn the value of and how to conduct a pre-shift inspection at the end of the training. They will learn how to operate safely in on-site scenarios as well as how to identify the typical excavator dangers and how to prevent or reduce them.