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Instructions for Proper Spotting of Heavy Equipment Operations

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Heavy construction equipment should only be handled by a properly trained operator who can demonstrate the ability and skill required. Heavy equipment refers to items such as backhoes, excavators and bulldozers. Not only the operator but those who have occasion to be around the equipment can put themselves and others at great risk of harm if safe practices are not followed. Each year mobile heavy equipment kills nearly 200 in the United States and many more are injured. A safety conscious spotter is an indispensable asset at a construction site where there is heavy equipment in use.

Become familiar with the equipment and its operation. Be thoroughly knowledgeable about the worksite’s safety policies.

Make sure that seat belts and any other safety devices are in working order prior to operation. Safety equipment includes such items as roll over bars, windshield wipers, parking brakes and an audible back up signal. Make sure that all personnel in the area are wearing the required safety equipment, such as regulation hard hats and bright colored vests.

Make sure that only authorized persons are riding in the vehicle. Observe that they remain seated or standing only in places designated in the user manual, and that they are using the safety equipment provided.

Stand away from the equipment and remain in clear view of the operator. Be vigilant of the operator’s blind spots. Certain locations where there is pedestrian traffic nearby may require more than one spotter.

Be on the lookout for equipment failure. Small items matter. As an example, construction vehicles must have two operating headlights and two operating taillights.

Monitor the work area to make sure the operator has adequate visibility and that the equipment remains stable.

Establish and use a system of hand signals that is familiar to both the spotter and the operator.

Help the equipment operator back up and use extra vigilance during any back-up operation. Always be on the alert for situations where backward motion is hazardous, and situations where the operator’s vision is obstructed.

Keep unauthorized persons clear of the work area.

Check for hazard postings and remain vigilant in areas where there is danger of contact with underground gas lines. Remember that high voltage lines can be either overhead or underground.

Exercise extra vigilance in congested areas or where it is very noisy.


Grayson Charles has been writing and editing since 1986. He enjoys writing technical articles in the areas of government, law, public policy, computers and the impact of the Internet on society. He was previously a freelance writer for "Panacea Magazine." Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the State University of New York at Albany.

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