There is a common belief that the only danger of operating or working around a large piece of equipment is being crushed or run down by the equipment.
However, the most common injuries among road equipment operators are not catastrophic injuries, but rather the type of injuries which may be perceived as minor, such as sprains or strains. We cannot afford to ignore the dangers associated with these large pieces of equipment. Tragic and catastrophic accidents do occur that result in fatalities.
The prevailing injuries among equipment operators include ankles, knees, backs, hips and rotator cuffs. According to accident reports, most of these injuries occur when entering or exiting the equipment.
Obviously sprains and strains are not fatal in nature, but they can be rather painful and debilitating. These types of injuries can have a detrimental effect on the employee’s quality of life. For example, a rotator cuff injury could take four weeks to 12 months of recovery time, barring any complications.
Operators must be alert when entering or exiting the equipment. The following are some basic recommendations to help prevent these injuries.
Always face the equipment when entering or exiting.
Always use the three-point contact:
Two hands, and one foot, or
Two feet and one hand.
Always use the steps and handrails provided by the manufacturer.
If a step or handle is damaged, have it repaired.
If steps are muddy, clean them.
Include steps and handles as part of your inspection and maintenance program.
When exiting the machine, pay attention to the landing areas, and
Never jump from the top of the machine.
These simple recommendations can reduce the possibility of an injury. However, they can only be effective with employee participation.
By Ernesto Galindo, Texas Association of Counties. Article reprinted with permission from TEEX Lone Star Roads, Issue 2-09. For more information on TEEX, go to: www.teex.org/eu. For more information on Texas LTAP, go to: http://teexcit.tamu.edu/texasltap/