Best Practices

Excavator Safety Tips

Earthmoving projects pose a variety of dangers to excavator operators and anyone else on the jobsite. Follow our best practices to ensure excavator safety and avoid problems.

To help you avoid unnecessary costs, we’ve put together several things you should pay attention to when looking for quality used equipment.

Preliminary Checkpoints

Check fuel levels

It sounds simple, but making sure the machine has enough fuel before putting it to work is key to excavator safety. 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.

Choose the right attachments

Key to excavator safety is choosing an attachment that is approved by the manufacturer of the machine in use. Adhere to the machine’s operator’s 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

To help ensure excavator safety, 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.

In Operation

Never undercut

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 that could compromise excavator safety.

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.

Contact Heavy Machines for more excavator safety tips!