The construction sector can be a profoundly hazardous environment for workers, with multiple fatalities occurring worldwide each year due to human error and poor health and safety standards. When it comes to working with or around plant equipment and industrial machinery, health and safety is paramount. Remaining vigilant and following appropriate health and safety procedures at all times helps to minimise risks and safeguard the well-being of yourself and your fellow workers. If you want to make the most of your rewarding career as a construction worker, here are some crucial safety tips to consider while operating or working around machinery.

Receive Training

Plant vehicles are immensely powerful pieces of equipment with the potential to cause life-changing injuries if mishandled. As such, all plant equipment and industrial machinery operators should undergo comprehensive training covering areas such as safe operating techniques and hazard identification. That said, it is not enough to simply attend training sessions - active listening and participation are required to ensure each employee is confident and competent enough to operate powerful machines in a safe and effective manner.

Wear PPE

PPE stands for personal protective equipment. This includes gloves, eye protection, hard hats, steel-toed footwear, face shields, and high-visibility clothing. Although it is the employer's responsibility to provide the appropriate PPE to all employees, it is your individual responsibility to ensure you wear it at all times to protect yourself and others from various hazards. For example, plant machinery can be exceptionally loud, and long-term exposure may cause hearing loss. However, you can prevent this by wearing good-quality ear protection.

Practice Safe Lifting And Loading

When it comes to working in the construction industry, manual lifting and loading is a significant aspect of many professions and trades. You can minimise the risk of long-term injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, provided safe lifting practices are adhered to. First and foremost, never attempt to lift a heavy object by bending forward, as this can lead to back muscle strain or ligament sprain, most frequently in the lumbar region. The "squat lift" is the most commonly recognised safe lifting technique for the workplace - adopt a stable posture with your feet hip-width apart, squat down and lift the load by slowly straightening your hips and knees.

Be Aware Of Policies And Procedures

Adhering to your workplace’s health and safety policies and procedures is the best way to ensure efficiency and productivity while reducing the likelihood of accidents. The purpose of a clear and concise health and safety policy is to outline practices and values regarding employee well-being. Familiarising yourself with your company’s health and safety policy will help you comply with the mandatory standards and guidelines. Furthermore, plant vehicle operators should be aware of traffic control plans and pavement management systems to ensure the safety and well-being of pedestrians as well as workers.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

Remaining mentally present and aware of your surroundings at all times is crucial when working in an environment with plant equipment. Take note of any construction safety signs and pay attention to any equipment and vehicles being used around you. If you yourself are operating machinery or in charge of a plant vehicle, you should always scan your surroundings for hazards before you begin. Be aware of blind spots - many plant vehicle operators use a ‘spotter’, an employee responsible for feeding information to the driver, including directions and potential hazards.

Never Operate Faulty Machinery

Before operating any form of machinery, you must be confident that it is safe to use. The unpredictable nature of faulty machinery significantly heightens the risk of severe harm to individuals operating it and those nearby. In extreme cases, defective equipment and machinery may cause fatalities. If you identify faulty machinery, you must follow your company’s procedures, which will likely involve reporting it immediately and keeping your distance until it is safe to do so.

Never Leave Equipment Unattended

Specific machinery can only be used under supervision or by trained personnel. Leaving equipment unattended could result in injury to workers or pedestrians. Suppose you are a plant operator - if you need to leave your vehicle, you must ensure it is parked safely and securely with the engine turned off. Only leave once you have checked all parts have stopped moving.

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