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Beware of unanticipated hazards while operating heavy equipment

If you work as an operator of heavy equipment in an industrial facility or construction site in Louisiana, you would likely have the required training and qualifications to do so. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration expects your employer to protect your health and safety on the job. A part of that responsibility is to provide safety training that will prepare you to deal with known hazards linked to the equipment.

Many severe injuries and even deaths result from heavy equipment accidents each year. Known risks for which you might be prepared include tip-overs, caught-in or between, and struck-by accidents. However, some heavy equipment operators fall victim to unanticipated incidents that could have severe consequences.

Potentially unanticipated hazards

It is crucial to take safety precautions to mitigate the following risks that might not have been part of your safety training:

  • Leaks: Any leaks on heavy equipment pose hazards such as causing slip hazards, but pressurized-line leaks are most dangerous. Contact with a leaking hydraulic line could cause the injection of fluid under your skin, which could kill tissue and might even lead to amputation.
  • Slips, trips and falls: These are common but often disregarded hazards that could cause serious injuries. You could slip or trip when you enter or exit the cab of the equipment or while walking on slick surfaces.
  • Loose objects: When there is loose cargo in the cab, it could distract you or slip into spaces that might compromise the safe operation of controls and pedals -- with potentially catastrophic consequences.
  • Pinch points: Your fingers are crucial when you operate the machine, and pinch points are present all over. Equipment hoods and door jams are just two of the most common causes of finger injuries, some of which might cause amputation injuries.

Beware of complacency if you have never suffered injuries while operating the equipment. An accident can happen at any time.

Precautions you can take

It is essential to be alert and take steps to mitigate the hazards that might not seem as dangerous as tip-overs, but they can lead to lost wages, medical expenses and other damages. The following steps might prevent this:

  • Pre-use inspection: Never work without completing an inspection to check for potential dangers and defects.
  • Eliminate slip hazards: Make sure your boots are free of mud and address slick conditions.
  • Three-point contact: Always use both hands and one foot or both feet and one hand as security when entering or exiting the cab of the equipment.
  • Pressurized lines: Never use your hand to check for leaks in pressurized lines -- even gloves do not provide enough protection.
  • Housekeeping: Housekeeping is as crucial in the cab of your equipment as on the job site. Remove unnecessary objects and secure the necessary ones.
  • Pinch points: Avoid pinch points and ensure equipment guards are fitted to prevent contact with moving parts or catch-in or between incidents.

How will you cope with an on-the-job injury?

If you suffer a work-related injury, you might be eligible for compensation through the Louisiana insurance system. An attorney who has experience in navigating workers' compensation benefits claims can provide valuable support and guidance. You will likely receive compensation to cover all your medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.

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The Townsley Law Firm
3102 Enterprise Boulevard
Lake Charles, LA 70601

Fax: 337-478-1577
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