This Toolbox Talk features Spotter Safety. Spotter safety is a crucial aspect of various industries, particularly in construction, manufacturing, and warehouse operations, where heavy machinery and equipment are commonly used. Spotter safety emphasizes the importance of clear communication, situational awareness, and adherence to established protocols. By focusing on proper training, communication skills, and vigilance, spotter safety plays a pivotal role in preventing accidents, minimizing workplace injuries, and maintaining a secure working environment. This practice not only protects the spotter and equipment operators but also contributes significantly to overall workplace safety and productivity.

What is a Spotter:

A spotter is a person designated to observe and direct equipment operators and drivers in order to maintain a safe working area. A spotter can have no other job duties while working as a spotter.

Duties of a Spotter:

  • The spotter should be positioned to have a clear view of the area the operator/driver cannot see and not be harmed.
  • Allow for sufficient stopping distance and clearance.
  • Use hand signals or other appropriate communications (air horns, whistles, and radios). Because of noise, a voice signal may be unheard or misunderstood.
  • Always use the same signals for the same moves to avoid misunderstanding. All signals must be planned and reviewed before operations.  
  • Monitor excavation activities to avoid underground obstructions that are known or unknown.
  • Always be visible to the operator. (If you can’t see the operator, the operator can’t see you.)
  • If you need to pass through on the operator’s blind spot, make sure the operator understands your actions.
  • Always stay focused, avoid distractions, and refrain from the use of cell phones, texting, and two-way radios unless radios are used to communicate with the operator while spotting.

Other Workers – Be sure You’re Seen:

If you pass behind a moving vehicle/machine

  • Make eye contact with the spotter/driver/operator.
  • Only move after you get the signal it’s safe to pass.

When to use a spotter:

  • Poor visibility
  • Overhead power lines, overhead obstructions and other obstructions present a hazard.
  • Pedestrians, coworkers, vehicle traffic, or other contractors are on or in the work area or roadways.
  • Moving equipment or materials in close proximity to an excavation.

Always make eye contact with the operator before communicating signals.

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