The hazards of operating heavy equipment
According to the Electronic Library of Construction Standards and Security, more than 100 workers are killed each year by a heavy equipment , such as cranes, loaders, backhoes, tractors or excavators, bulldozers. There are other risks associated with the operation of heavy machinery.
Risk of falling materials and equipment
This is the leading cause of death among heavy equipment operators. The worker when walking can be hit by heavy equipment when it changes direction or reverses. The heavy equipment operator may be trapped when the brakes are not adjusted properly, or may be hit when the machine is left running. Another danger is the backhoe bucket, loads of equipment or other moving parts that could crush the worker.
Raynaud’s syndrome is a disease that affects heavy equipment operators working with power tools, hammers and mills. It causes a discoloration of the fingers and also known as “white finger disease.” This is caused by vasospasms that decrease blood supply to the hands. Operate this heavy equipment is causing segmental vibrations transmitted through the hands and arms, which cause Raynaud’s syndrome.
The constant vibration of heavy equipment such as tractors and bulldozers can cause whole body vibration (WBV), which is the transmission of mechanical vibration from the machine through a support surface to the body. These vibrations can be high frequency of engines and transmissions, and low frequency of the tires and the ground, and the shock of encountering potholes. A long-term exposure to this vibration can cause lower back disorders such as herniated discs, an acceleration of the degenerative changes in the spine, abdominal pain and nausea.
Heavy equipment operators must not only handle the equipment, but also have to be alert to monitor other people, monitor changes in their environment, and beware of underground utilities, obstacles, overhead power lines and traffic place. These workers also have to deal with poor visibility from the cab and reduced visibility in winter conditions, rainy weather and the sun shining too bright days. All this affects operators and can lead to mental and eye strain that can progressively worsen and cause employees to make mistakes if they don’t take breaks to rest their eyes and not given the opportunity to recharge their mental batteries.