The Top Dozer Safety Tips: Before, During, and After Use
When using heavy machinery, operators need to have great safety practices and habits in place. You might think that an accident will never happen to you, and while accidents may be rare, they do happen. Just this year there were two well-documented cases of bulldozers causing runover deaths in Nebraska and Michigan.
Heavy equipment machinery safety can be broken down into three sections: before use, during use, and after use. It's crucial to not neglect any safety best practices in these sections as they can lead to death or safety citations.
Safety Tips Before Using a Dozer
Equipment walk-arounds and checklists are a common safety measure in the contracting and construction industries, and for good reason; they guarantee that the operator has checked for any machine malfunctions before the equipment's operation. This could include looking for conditions such as flat tires, clean windows, a working emergency brake, a clean undercarriage, and a fully functional horn.
Other safety tips and practices for dozer operators:
- Ensuring you're wearing the proper PPE.
- Maintaining three points of contact when climbing up and down the bulldozer.
- Using the provided handrails and steps to get into the cab of the dozer. Taking alternative routes should never be an option.
- Keeping your boots clean when getting in and out of the dozer. Slipping and falling is a real concern and wet or muddy boots can cause this to happen.
- Wearing your seatbelt. This is especially important in the case of the bulldozer rolling over, one of the most common bulldozer accidents. The seatbelt will keep you in place and allow the rollover
- protection structure (ROPS) to do its job.
- Checking the operational controls of the dozer.
- Being mindful of any points on the dozer where a part of your body could get pinched.
- Properly latching down any areas of the bulldozer that could become loose during transit, especially the ripper or back ladder.
- Adjusting the seat and cab to your desired comfort and preference.
- Checking the gas and oil amounts before using.
- Confirming that all lights and horns work on the dozer.
Safety Tips When Using a Dozer
When using a bulldozer or crawler, there are many best practices as well. These include:
- Keeping your line of sight clear. Have your cameras and windows clean and work in environments with the lowest amount of obstructions possible.
- Staying away from water lines and power lines. You don't want to risk the chance of getting caught on any wires or destroying infrastructure so it's best to operate in open spaces.
- Traveling at slow speeds, especially when on rough terrains or in working areas. It's always best to maintain as much control of the dozer as possible.
- Checking to see if your tracks are too tight. Tight tracks can lead to them being damaged more quickly.
- Dozing on a diagonal and starting from the bottom when operating the dozer on an angle or steep slopes
- Honking when turning corners. It's always best to add that extra piece of safety.
- Working in the slot, also known as the middle of the blade. Focus all your dozing on the middle of the blade so that the least amount of material spills on the sides.
- Using shorter cuts. Try not to overload the crawler. While you might think doing longer pushes would lead to quicker work, it's not true and can lead to more wear and tear on the undercarriage.
Safety Tips After Using a Dozer
Now that you're done using your bulldozer for the day it's important to make sure the machine is parked and locked up safely.
Best practices for shutting down a dozer after use include:
- Lowering the ripper and blade to the ground level before turning off the machine.
- Parking on as flat a surface as possible. This helps avoid any tipping or rolling away.
- Using the service brake or parking brake.
- Relieving all hydraulic systems of the pressure built up.
- Locking up the machine, if determined necessary.
- Shutting off the master switch, if the machine has one.
Most Common Dozer Accidents
As we saw in one of the accidents earlier this year, dozer runovers often happen after they're used, not during. Work-related accidents or deaths due to heavy equipment use may be rare but it does happen. To avoid the risk of it happening to you or your bulldozer operators, it's recommended to follow each of the safety tips discussed.
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