Working Safely Around Mobile Equipment

May 10, 2021

We work around a large amount of mobile equipment at most sites that we go to. For that matter, we are around automobiles daily. Each type of equipment has their own unique blind spots where the operator cannot see you.

The shaded area around the forklift below represents the danger zone or “no zone” in which the operator’s view of pedestrian traffic and other objects is greatly reduced or obscured altogether.

A leading cause of construction related deaths is being struck by an object. Approximately 75% of workplace struck by fatalities involve equipment such as forklifts, trucks, and cranes. There are a variety of ways that heavy equipment can present hazards. For example, you can be: 

  • Diagram, engineering drawing

Description automatically generatedElectrocuted if the equipment contacts an energized power line.
  • Crushed if equipment near you overturns.
  • Struck by or crushed by material being moved by heavy equipment.
  • Crushed if caught between the equipment and a wall or other fixed object.
  • Run over by a vehicle.
  • Hit by falling objects that were being lifted

What other ways can mobile equipment present hazards?

The number one rule is to keep clear of moving equipment. Never assume the operator of a piece of equipment knows where you are or where you are going next.

Try to stay in the view of the operator. Always remain alert to the equipment moving around you and never get near moving equipment unless necessary.

Before entering the work zone of mobile equipment, be sure to catch the eye of the operator so the operator knows you are in the area. That may take a wave and a response. Never walk under the suspended loads of cranes, forklifts, or other lifting equipment. Never walk or stand between the outriggers or near the counterweight area of cranes. Make yourself as visible as possible with a safety vest or light.

What else can be done to improve job site safety around mobile equipment?

Back-up alarms must be operational, and a signal person should be behind all equipment with obstructed rear views. If you come across a non-working back-up alarm or backing without a spotter, be sure to let local supervision know immediately to have it corrected. Remember that on a noisy work site you may not be able to hear a vehicle’s back up alarm and very often people tune them out.

Never ride on equipment unless you are provided a seat and a safety belt. This includes running boards, steps, or anywhere else on any piece 

of equipment. Employees riding on equipment and non-working back-up alarms are two commonly cited violations by OSHA.

Workers exposed to heavy equipment need to be aware of the hazards and play a role in keeping all workers safe.

Look out for each other; warn co-workers about any possible dangers as equipment moves around the site.

We want everyone to go home safe and sound each day. Working safely around mobile equipment is done daily at thousands of job sites. It just takes your awareness and commitment to make work sites safe.