Be Alert of Moving Equipment

When construction equipment is rumbling around a project, you’ve got to watch your step. If both construction workers and equipment operators keep their eyes open, no one’s going to get hurt.

Never take for granted that equipment operators see you.

Never depend upon hearing a horn or other warning signals; it might sometimes be lost in the general noise around a project.

Equipment shouldn’t be backed without someone to check the blind spots and give signals; nevertheless, keep in the clear whenever equipment is traveling backwards, as that’s when most equipment accidents happen.

Swinging counterweights often create a dangerous pinch-point. Don’t ever get into a spot where you could get squeezed in between.

Never hitch a ride on the running board it’s fatally easy to fall under moving equipment.

No riding on top of loaded trucks; the load might shift, and you might not have enough over-head clearance in a tight spot.

If you’re riding in a transport vehicle to a job, or between jobs, keep your arms, legs, and all parts of your body inside the unit.

Never walk alongside moving equipment. Keep in the clear in case the unit suddenly turns your way, or slides, or the load shifts.

Stay out from under loads on cranes or hoists. Use established walkways and beware of shortcuts.

If the boom of a unit ever hits a power line, keep away from the frame of the unit and the load cables.

Never lubricate, clean or work on a machine that’s in operation. Stop the machine. If you have to remove a guard, replace it as soon as the work’s done.

Construction equipment is husky, heavy, and extremely unhealthy to tangle with. Always assume that the operator doesn’t see you; doesn’t even know you’re around.


Always figure that it’s up to you to keep in the clear.

Moving Equipment

The best way to avoid danger from self-propelled units, such as cranes, dozers, and trucks, is to keep your eyes open and stay out of the way. The operator does his best to keep from running over anyone. But with all the commotion on the construction site, he might not see you. And don’t depend on hearing a horn or alarm. A construction site, as you know, is not only busy, it’s noisy.

Be especially careful when a vehicle is backing up. The operator should ask his foreman to direct him into the space. But sometimes he doesn’t. So since he can’t see you, you have to watch out for him. Never take a chance and dart behind a vehicle that’s backing up, if you slip and fall, you’ve had it.



Don’t ride on any vehicles except those intended to transport you on or between jobs. This goes for the running board or drawbar of a unit, loaded trucks, or the bucket of a bucket loader. Riding on the top of a load is especially dangerous. You may fall off if the load shifts or be crushed when going under low clearances. When riding in transport vehicles, keep your arms and legs inside where they belong.



Don’t walk alongside moving equipment. You can be killed or injured if the vehicle slides or turns, or if the load shifts, or if you slip. Don’t walk under loads on cranes or hoists. Be especially careful not to touch the frame of a crane when there are power lines in the area. If the crane touches one of them, you’ll be electrocuted. Remember, too, that electricity can jump several feet, depending on voltage and weather conditions. So, in addition to not touching the crane, stay well clear.



Not only vehicles, but moving equipment of any kind is dangerous. If, for example, you’re working on portable staging, scaffolding, or work platforms, stay off while it’s being moved unless it is designated for you to be on it.



Stay ahead by not getting behind (or along- side of) moving equipment. The more you’re alert, the less chance you’ll have of getting hurt.

Overhead Loads

A young construction worker was killed the same day his wife was coming home from the hospital with their first child. How did this occur? A heavy, bulky section was being transported by a crane, which had to carry it six or seven feet in the air to clear other objects. The load was equipped with tag lines, which were being used to guide it by all of the workers except this young man. Although warned by his foreman to use the line, he didn’t. A lifting pad gave way and he was killed instantly.



This incident reminds me of a slogan I once saw: “if it’s in the air, it’s dangerous.” This is something to remember even if the mechanical equipment seems to be in good condition.



Let’s review some of the rules that can help keep us from getting injured by failing loads:

A load that can be carried close to the ground can be stabilized by a person at each end. These individuals must stay in the clear at all times, and the ground surface must be unobstructed and reasonably level. Taglines should always be used where needed. And definitely where the load is to be carried more than five feet above the ground. In some cases, ten-foot taglines should be used to guide loads being raised and lowered, rather than using extremely long lines that drag around the job and can snag on some- thing.


On all jobs, only one person, generally the lead person, should give signals to the crane operator. If you are assigned the job of directing the crane, follow these basic rules:

  1. Always use standard hand signals to direct the crane operator.


  1. Stand in the clear and place yourself where the operator can plainly see you and you can see the operator.


  1. If you can’t see the load and another person is signaling to you, be sure every-one is in the clear before you give the signal to the operator. Remember, it takes time to relay signals.


  1. Never permit a load to be lowered, raised, or swung over a worker’s head. If the operator can see the load, it’s the operator’s responsibility -without exception -to see that this rule is followed.



If it’s in the air, it’s dangerous.”



Falling Objects


Falling objects can be materials, tools, debris or equipment, and if they land on you, you can be seriously injured or even killed.

Let’s look first at the problem of materials. Materials are piled in the yard, in the truck, or at
various places on the job site. The phrase “Piling up Trouble” surely fits the situation when you pile material improperly. All materials should be piled on a sound base, straight and steady, and at a reasonable height. It may be well to crosstie and cover the material for protection and safety.


Piling materials on scaffolds requires special care. You have to be sure not to overload, to allow ample space for work operations, and to make the piles stable. Be sure toe boards are placed on all scaffolding and open elevations to safeguard workers below from falling materials—loose brick, tools, equipment.


When you want to send material, tools or equipment to higher elevations, use containers or buckets and hand lines. Never throw materials or tools. When you pull on a hand line, he sure to stand clear of the loaded materials and tools. Keep an eye on the load as it goes up. When you have to pull up materials that can’t be placed in a container, fasten the load securely to the hand line. If materials like pipe, conduit, and rods aren’t properly fastened in bundles, a piece can be jarred loose and hit the worker pulling the hand line.


Tools, equipment and materials often fall when workers attempt to carry them up ladders. Use hand lines so your hands will be free to hold onto the ladder when you go up. When you load hoists and platform skips, be sure the materials and packages are stacked safely. A sloppy load is a load of trouble. Never leave a load suspended.


When you work beneath other operations, like riveting crews, wear your hard hat, it’s often a lifesaver. When you strip forms, it’s important to use the necessary guards. Often you’ll find workers working on makeshift scaffolds, attempting to strip panels on the floor slab. They don’t seem to know that the entire section might come loose and fall on them.


Where scaffolds are not provided and you work at an open elevation, wear a safety belt and tied- off life-line. Then if you’re using both hands to pry a panel and it breaks loose suddenly, the safety belt and life-line will keep you from falling. Working from swing staging is also a dangerous operation and requires the utmost care to prevent falls of equipment, materials and tools.


We know what precautions the company takes to protect us. Now, let’s all do our share to keep objects from falling. We’ll prevent injury to workers below as well as to ourselves.


Refueling Equipment

When you hear this request at a service station, you can be pretty sure the job will be done safely. Service station operations and equipment are designed with safety in mind. But what happens when you fill up that front-end loader or portable generator on the job? Do you do it the safe way so you won’t get hurt?



Never smoke during refueling operations. And don’t refuel near an open flame. Keep a C02 (carbon dioxide), or an ABC Dry Chemical extinguisher handy, just in case.

If there’s a chance of a vehicle rolling while being refueled, chock the wheels. Before filling the fuel tank, shut off the engine.

If the tank is near the engine or other hot areas, such as the manifold or muffler, let the engine cool before filling the tank.

When transferring fuel from a can, mobile tank or fuel truck, keep the spout or nozzle in contact with the fuel tank. Few people know this, but as fuel is poured, it can generate static electricity. If a spark ignites the vapors, it’s all over for you.

Don’t spill the fuel because it might ignite when it comes in contact with something hot. And don’t make one of the most common mistakes – overfilling the tank. If the equipment is in the hot sun, the fuel will expand and eventually overflow. Leave enough space in the tank to compensate for expansion or tilting.

After refueling has been completed, be sure all fuel has been drained from the hose and that any spills are cleaned up immediately.




Rigging looks like an easy operation, one that doesn’t seem to require any particular skill or experience. But don’t be fooled. Many people who’ve thought that “anyone can do it” have lost fingers or hands, or suffered more serious injuries. We don’t want any one injured while rigging on this job.

So I’m going to point out some of the “do’s and don’ts.” Pay close attention.


Appoint one member of the crew to act as signalman, and instruct the crane operator not to accept signals from anyone else. The signalman must not order a move until getting an “all ready” from each crew member. Each worker in turn must be in the clear before giving an “all ready” to the signal-man. If you must hold on to the chain, sling, choker, or what ever to maintain tension, be sure your hands and feet are out of the way of pinch points before giving an “all ready.”



If it isn’t possible to release the chain, sling, or choker, be sure your hand is clear of pinch points. In fact, keep your hand far enough away so that a frayed wire or splinter on the chain can’t catch your glove and jerk your hand into a pinch point.



It’s almost impossible to position the hook exactly over the load center. So, watch out for a swing or roll. Anticipate he direction of the swing or roll and work away from it. Never place yourself between material, equipment or other stationary objects and the load. Stay away from stacked material that may be knocked over by a swinging load.



Never get under a suspended load, and keep out from under the crane’s boom too. The chances are that nothing will break. But are you willing to bet life and limb that it won’t?



When it’s necessary to guide a load, use a tag line or hook. If you have to walk with a load, keep it as close to the ground as possible. Before hand, look over the spot where the load is to be landed. Remove unnecessary blocks or the objects that might fly up when struck by the load. When lowering or setting a load, keep your feet and all other parts of your body out from under. Set the load down easily and slowly. Then, if it rolls on the blocking, it will shift slowly and you’ll be able to get away.



Teamwork is important on any job to prevent injury to yourself or others. But on a rigging job, this goes double.