Earthmoving projects pose a variety of dangers to excavator operators and anyone else on the jobsite. Follow our best practices below to ensure a safe project.
Check fuel levels
It sounds simple, but make sure the machine has enough fuel before putting it to work. Your excavator should be able to operate at all times, allowing the user to dump unstable loads in case of an emergency. Low fuel levels can shut an excavator down unexpectedly, causing a potentially dangerous and unstable situation.
Select an attachment that is approved by the manufacturer of the machine in use. Adhere to the machine’s operators manual for safe operating ratios. Understand that the swing motor is the weakest part of the excavator, and can be compromised by the weight of an attachment in variable conditions.
Assess the ground
Inspect the jobsite for debris, loose soil, holes/ditches, inclines, and other obstacles. Even if you know your machine, a rock, stump, or other hidden obstacle can cause your machine to slide. If the machine catches an edge near any sort of incline or decline, tipping over becomes a real possibility.
Know your articulated truck
If you will be loading an articulated truck, match the truck size to the excavator you are using, or vice versa. It should take 3 to 5 bucket loads to fill the truck bed—Any more than 5 and you are wasting time.
An undercut occurs when an operator digs the ground beneath the excavator tracks. Always be aware of the location of the lip of the hole that is being created to avoid a cave-in.
Don’t overload the bucket
Know your machine’s load limits and never exceed them, as overloading can cause loss in stability and potential tip-overs.
Monitor your track position
When working on a hill, or any incline or decline, make sure your tracks are pointing up and down the slope. Your tracks should never be parallel to the slope, as this distributes the weight of the machine unevenly and can cause a roll over. Maintain a stable center of gravity at all times.
Loading—Position the truck correctly
Position the truck on the left side of the excavator so the truck and excavator are facing cab-to-cab. The truck should be stopped with the truck bed headboard in line with the rear of the excavator cab. This allows the excavator operator clear visibility, since the boom is out of the way. This technique gives the operator about a 25° swing into the truck, which is the most efficient position for loading.
Take the time to place offset marks
It’s impossible to dig a straight line without a visual guide. Whether it’s with chalk, stakes, or a stringline, taking this simple step at the beginning of the task will ensure an accurate end result. Also, align your tracks to the guide to help you move parallel to the dig.