While not every professional in the heavy equipment industry works either with or around hoists, many do. If you’re one of them, this changes not only your responsibilities at work but your whole environment, altogether. Working around heavy equipment can be dangerous enough as it is. Add a moving hoist or two, and the danger intensifies.
There are many positions in the heavy equipment industry where the professional is responsible for more than their own safety. This couldn’t be more true than for employees who operate a hoist. You’re not only aware of your own positioning, but also the surroundings of others. It’s your responsibility to be accountable for where others are in your area at all times, period. Because of this, here are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind every day while at work.
Come to work ready to work
We’ll start with one of the most important tips you will read in this article. Every day, when you arrive at work, your mind and attention need to be with you. Regardless of what’s going on at home or elsewhere, you’re now at work. That’s where your focus needs to be.
This might seem rude or unimportant, but the safety and well being of others is in your control. You will be putting other people at risk if you make a mistake. It’s not right for other people to be at a higher risk while they do their job, simply because you are there with them. This includes the effects of alcohol and other drugs from the night before or your shift begins. When you use a mind-altering substance, the mental effects often last longer than the physical. Make sure you’re in a condition others can trust when you show up for work.
Check the equipment you will be using
Once you arrive at the site or area you will be working at, time needs to be spent examining and going over the equipment you will be using. Check for anything that may be missing or look different from the hoist itself. Test every control on the controller or remote you will be using to operate the hoist. Is it starting to operate the way it should? Does motion stop at your command as it’s supposed to?
Check every motion that is available with the control you use, especially the emergency stop. You want everything to be operating exactly as it should be. Do not rely on what you’ve been told by the person you’re replacing. Their shift is now over and the condition of the equipment you are operating is your responsibility. Go through this thoroughly at the start of your shift and as you return from every break.
Be aware of your environment
Once you have examined the equipment you will be using, spend time going over the area both you and your hoist will be used in. Is there anything on the floor or ground around you that needs to be moved? Don’t wait until you have started and will have to stop with your hoist in the air. Move everything that could be in the way you can before getting started. If there’s something that can’t be moved, make sure you stay aware of where you are in its proximity.
Also, what are the paths of travel for others in your area? Is there a single pathway or route you need to focus on or do you need to be completely aware of all people at all times? What matters the most is that you are completely aware of all your surroundings at all times.
Make sure others know where you are
As important as it is for you to know where others are in your area at all times, it’s just as important for them to know where you are. Spend time before getting started talking with those who will be in your area or working with you. While it may or may not be important to have hand signals, you need to be able to make eye contact with them.
They need to know how important it is to be able to see you before walking through your area, especially if your hoist is in the air. Make this as much of a routine as possible. Discuss with your coworkers what areas you operate in so they know where to look. If they are unable to look you in your eyes before walking through an area, they may be unable to see the potential danger they’re walking into.
Make sure you know your limits
Some of the most vital information you will have throughout your shift is what your limits are. This applies to many areas. For starters, what are the limits of the hoist you’re operating? Is there a weight limit you need to make sure you stay under? Are there size dimensions you need to be able to clear? Keep this information in mind every time you pick something up with your hoist.
Also, what are your physical limits? As mentioned earlier, you need to be completely alert at all times. Regardless of the work situation, this can be mentally exhausting. Are you taking enough breaks? Is the weather you are in a particular day creating an issue? The last thing you want is for you or someone else to be injured because you exceeded your limits. There’s nothing wrong with knowing your capabilities and refusing to push them over the limit.
When working with heavy equipment, especially when a hoist is involved, safety is always the number one priority of everyone on the job site. There’s no cutting corners or taking shortcuts to save time. Making sure that everyone is safe and out of harm’s way has to be important to everyone. Only when this happens will everyone involved be confident in returning home safe following a long day’s work. Make sure that you are not the person letting everyone else down.