Heavy construction equipment is often used on construction sites that have various purposes, and these machineries are necessary to complete the project. As construction machines significantly decrease the building time of a project by increasing the productivity. However, despite the efficiency of these machines, it does increase the risk factor for all employees working on site. It is stated that heavy machinery incidents are among the most frequent causes of workplace injuries on construction site
The Occupational Health and Safety Act no. 85 of 1993 and Regulations aims to ensure the safety of operators, maintenance providers as well as inspection and testing providers operate safely. To make sure that all machines are safe to use.
Operations of Machinery
It is indicated in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations that any user or employer of a large machine shall ensure that the operator of the machine is fully aware of the dangers attached to and is conversant with the precautionary measures to be taken or observed to prevent such dangers. Different type of machinery is often used on sites however some require constant attention when operating. If a piece of equipment requires constant attention from the operator to avoid any accidents, under no circumstances shall the person leave their post while the machine is in operation. Only if the person is relieved by another person who is authorised and competent to take over operations. In addition, a shiftsman is also required to be on site at all times when the machine is in operation. It is indicated that no person shall operate such machinery except under the general supervision of a shiftsman.
When a machine threatens or is likely to threaten the safety of any person on site when it unsuspectedly is set into motion, it is the responsibility of the employer or user of the machinery to take precautionary measures to ensure that such machinery can not be set into motion again. Any person that intends to use the machinery to be set into motion is required to take all reasonable precaution measures.
The operation of any machine on site that threatens the life of the following persons: supervisor, operator, or any person on site, shall immediately be stopped by the employer of user of the machine.
Construction Machinery Incidents
The reality of heavy machinery on site is that it not only puts the people in danger working on the ground, but that everyone including the operator of the machine within a danger zone. When an incident occurs on site involving an operator, it is common that the person will also suffer from injuries since the person is trapped inside the machines cab. Nevertheless, these types of incidents are often sever. The most common injuries involving these incidents includes broken bones, serious cuts and burns, back or neck injuries, head injuries, and even a loss of a life.
Causes of Machine Incidents
There are many ways an incident can occur on site involving a heavy machine, however, here are four that will be highlighted, Rollovers, Collapses, Malfunctions and Machine Collisions. Though, keep in mind that these are not the only types of incidents that could occur on sites.
Rollovers is when a machine has lost its balance and topples on its side. This commonly happens when the operator loses control, the ground is unstable, or the machine has been inadequately maintained.
Collapses occurs when the machine gives in under the weight of its cargo and collapses to the ground, these types of incidents often occur with cranes.
Malfunctions are identified as when a machine loses its grip or fails to perform its designed task. This could range from loss of control to dropping a heavy items or items below. That’s why it is important to never perform work under an operating machine.
Machine collisions are defined as a machine running over an employee or pinning the person between a hard surface. As indicated above, it is important that a machine is never left unattended when the machine is switched on, since machine collisions often occurs when the operator left the machine running and left unattended.
The most common types of machinery used on site
Tower cranes are fixed equipment that are used for hoisting purposes in construction of tall structure or buildings. Concrete blocks, steel trusses, frames are heavy materials that are pre-stressed are materials that can easily be lifted using a crane. The mast is a vertical supporting tower, the jib which is the operating arm of the crane, the counter jib is the other arm that carries the counter weight on the rear side of the machine and an operator cabin from which the crane can be operated.
Large machinery is a necessity on construction sites but the important take away is to make sure that the machines are operated by competent employees and make user that the rules are followed by all on sites. Taking the time and precautions to avoid any incidents can improve the safety of a site and save lives.
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