Operating heavy construction equipment (such as excavators and forklifts) can significantly increase a person's risk of sustaining injuries. Here are two ways to minimise an operator's chances of being hurt during the course of their work:
Invest in high-quality seat systems
As a piece of heavy construction equipment moves across the ground, it usually vibrates quite violently. These vibrations may become even more extreme if the equipment is being used on uneven soil.
If the seat system in the equipment does not have adequate shock-absorption features or is not ergonomically designed, there is a very high chance that these vibrations will result in the operator developing postural issues and severe, long-term back problems. This is because, without these protective features, their body will be continually flung around the seating area as they drive the equipment. The impact of this may result in issues such as sciatica (where the sciatic nerve in the back becomes painfully compressed) or a herniated lumbar disc.
Fortunately, these issues can be avoided, simply by using a high-quality seating system made by a reputable brand, like ISRI, for example. Their construction seats come with things like air suspension features, lumbar support back rests and adjustable head and arm rests, all of which can help operators' to maintain good posture and avoid back injuries. Additional ISRI parts such as lap belt seats and hip restraints can also be purchased, to provide further protection against injury.
Provide adequate training
Inadequate training will almost certainly increase an operator's risk of sustaining an injury. If they have not been taught how to mitigate the risks associated with using this equipment, they will be more likely to make a mistake which will lead to them being injured or killed.
For example, let's say that the emergency stop button in an excavator stops working. The person assigned to operate this equipment has not been received proper training and is, therefore, unaware of the importance of carrying out a pre-inspection of the vehicle. As a result, they fail to notice this defect before they begin to operate the equipment.
Then, they find themselves needing to use this button, in order to prevent the vehicle from hitting a solid structure (such as wall, tree or building, for example). The button fails to function properly and they then end up hitting the structure and sustaining a potentially life-threatening injury.
In this scenario, the operator could have avoided this injury, if they had been fully trained on how to safely use the equipment.