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It is a must that all operators have identifiable and verifiable training on the equipment before operating. Accidents can happen to both the newly trained and seasoned veterans.

For everyone’s safety especially those of the operators, here are ten important heavy equipment safety tips.

1. Blind spots

Sweeper operators have to be 100% sure that no one is behind them or in their blind spots when moving, even if this involves getting out of the sweeper and checking. If vision is limited, have a spotter stand in a safe, visible position to guide and direct you. Newer equipment should come with rear camera and additional cameras as an option if not standard.

2. Communication

Verbal communication can be difficult and dangerous near your sweeper. Operation instructions and directions should be made before starting. If communication is necessary completely shutdown and exit the sweeper. Never allow anyone to approach the sweeper during operation or transport.

3. Seatbelts

Wearing your seatbelt in your sweeper is just as important as in any other vehicle. There is no excuse for not wearing it at all times,

4. Entering and Exiting the Cab

Falls and stepping on and off are some of the biggest causes of injury recorded by OSHA and other safety departments. Only enter or exit the sweeper when the truck and any moving parts are stopped, and the truck is in park. Always use three-point contact when entering or exiting. Walkways, steps, and handrails should be checked before use to ensure a proper non-slip surface. Replace or repair damaged component(s) immediately.

5. Dumping the Hopper

Use extreme caution when dumping contents from the debris hopper. Ensure all personnel are at least 20 feet away from truck. Select a dump site on level ground and clear of overhead obstructions that could be hit when raising the debris hopper. Serious injury or death to the operator, bystanders could occur if precautions are not taken when dumping the contents of your hopper.

7. Lock-out/Tag-out

According to OSHA, employers must train and have procedures in place to ensure that before any employee performs servicing or maintenance on a sweeper where unexpected start-up or release of stored energy could occur and cause injury. Remove the truck keys and keep them in your pocket before performing any service, maintenance, cleaning or before any person enters into equipment hopper. The truck engine controls must be shut off and prevented from accidental activation.

8. Load Limits

Be aware of the load limits of your sweeper. Depending on what kind of debris, the load limits can change drastically. Stopping distance with a loaded debris hopper will be greater than with an empty truck. Always refer to your sweeper manual.

9. Walk-around Inspection

Sweepers should be inspected before every job. This involves walking around with a pre-developed checklist of components to check for good working order. Hydraulic hoses, oil levels, water system, etc. are all areas that need to be inspected and reported to the maintenance department before start-up. Replace any missing, broken or worn safety shields, guards and safety devices right away.

10. Personal Protection Equipment

Always wear all protective clothing and personal safety devices issued to you or called for by job conditions. This should always include:

• Hard hat when working around a raised hopper.
• Safety shoes
• Safety glasses, goggles or face shield
• Gloves
• Hearing protection
• Reflective clothing
• Close Fitted Clothing
• Respirator – Depending on conditions and material being swept or cleaned.

A careful operator is the best operator. Safety is of primary importance to the manufacturer and should be to the owner/operator. Most accidents can be avoided by being aware of your sweeper, your surroundings, and observing certain precautions.

This list is only a general guideline of things to keep in mind. A sweeper should only be operated by those persons who have read the manual, who are responsible, trained, and who know how to do so responsibly.

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