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Best Practices

How to Maintain Excavator Safety

ASC BestPractices Index V1

Excavator Safety Best Practices

Earthmoving and construction projects can create dangerous situations if the proper steps aren’t taken. In order to stay productive and reduce the chance of an accident on the job, follow these tips and best practices for excavator safety.

Inspect the ground before working
Prior to starting each shift, it’s important to assess the terrain and check for holes, loose soil, steep inclines, debris, large rocks and stumps, and any other obstacles. A large object can cause a machine to slide, and catching an edge near an incline can lead to tipping, even when the excavator is driven by an expert operator.

Know your fuel levels
A key part of excavator safety is ensuring it has enough fuel before starting work. You always want sufficient fuel for the operator to dump unstable loads in emergency situations. Running out of fuel will cause the excavator to shutdown unexpectedly, leading to unstable and potentially dangerous situations.

Use the right attachments
One of the most important excavator tips is to select compatible attachments. Before purchasing an attachment, consult your operator manual to make sure it’s within the machine’s limits. If you have any questions about which excavator attachment is right for you, our team can help!

Don’t undercut while digging
Undercutting refers to digging the ground beneath your excavator tracks and can lead to extremely unstable situations, cave ins, sliding, and even tipping. Stay aware of the location of the lip of the hole that is being created to avoid a cave-in.

Watch your track position
When operating on any incline or decline, a critical piece of excavator safety is pointing the tracks up and down the hill. Having your tracks parallel to the slope will distribute the machine’s weight unevenly and can cause a roll over. You want a stable center of gravity at all times.

Never overload your bucket
Understand your machine’s load limits and never exceed them. Overloading your excavator can lead to a loss in stability and potential tip overs.

Install trench protection systems
When your trench is deeper than five feet, you need to implement a protective system. One method is sloping and benching, which involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle to create a slope, then developing steps to travel in and out of the trench. The other method is installing shoring and trench shields. These systems use metal supports for the trench walls to help prevent cave-ins on excavation projects.

Keep a safe distance from other workers
Your excavator operator should not dig in close proximity to people on the jobsite, and workers need to stay at a safe distance from the excavator to avoid injury from falling loads or debris. We also recommend keeping building and construction materials at least two feet away from the edge of a trench to avoid them falling into the hole.

If you have any questions about excavator safety or excavator tips in general, contact our team today!