Human safety is of prime importance while working on ground or at heights in the Infrastructure Industry. To instill safety values and make safety a priority, India observes the National Safety Day on March 4 every year.
Satin Sachdeva, Founder & Secretary General, Construction Equipment Rental Association
Safety in infrastructure sector means preventing accidents, loss and damage to human life and equipment. Being adequately trained and aware of the equipment in use is imperative, especially in the case of heavy equipment. They can be dangerous when not used properly. An unskilled operator or a faulty machine is a risk for humans working around and for the machine itself.
Recently, a crane operator died after a 500-ton crane tilted over and collapsed while placing a girder of a Metro rail line in Mumbai. It was due to lack of awareness, skill, and knowledge about operating an equipment, safely. The accident caused loss of life and damage to the equipment.
A study by the International Labour Organization reported that 165 out of every 1,000 construction workers are injured daily in India. According to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, around 48,000 people die at work in India every year and 70% of them are construction workers.
Falling from a height or off a construction equipment in the USA accounts for the largest number of deaths, followed by being struck by an object, electrocution, and getting caught between components of construction machinery or material.
Various factors can contribute to injuries and fatalities during equipment operations:
- Falling materials and loads
- Equipment operator blind spots
- Operator dismounting and leaving equipment in gear, or not setting the brakes or wheel chocks
- Equipment tip-over or rollover
- Equipment or controls not locked during maintenance.
It is also a fact that most workers complete their duties uninjured every day. In India, most operators get on the job training by starting as helpers and as they gain experience, they begin to realize the importance of safety. They become aware of dangers associated with equipment operation and take steps to mitigate potential accidents.
The role of contractors becomes important as they can help enforce safety guidelines and rules at their jobsites to minimize injuries and fatalities. Rental companies should also work closely with contractors on safety issues.
Since every machine is meant for a specific work, they should be used only for its intended purpose. Using the right machine for the proper job reduces chances of accidents. For example, excavators are not meant to be used as aerial manlifts and skid steer buckets are not meant to carry passengers.
It is important to always recruit trained equipment operators and spotters, and also to check their ability to understand safety rules and guidelines. Worker visibility and visual and verbal communication between an operator and spotter is important for ensuring safety since blind spots are potential threats.
Awareness of the hazards posed by heavy equipment and training on safe work practices to all workers can mitigate accidents at sites. Restricting unauthorized entry in a swing radius around heavy equipment and proper signage at construction sites should always be in place.
One of the most important safety tips is to stay out of the line of fire. The line-of-fire refers to every place around a piece of heavy equipment where a worker can be caught in-between or hit by a mobile object. Eye contact with a heavy equipment operator is critical for safety. By making eye contact, it’s assured that both the operator and surrounding workers are aware of each other. This prevents an operator from swinging a machine or material toward a stationary worker who might approach the line of fire.
Every operator has the responsibility to inspect his machine regularly and any fault detected, especially loose attachments, wearing parts and foreign materials lodged in components, should be addressed immediately before they become dangerous.
Let’s prioritize safe equipment operations for ‘zero accidents, zero loss of life and zero damage to equipment’.