Safety tips for common types of earthmoving equipment

Posted on: 31 July 2017

Earthmoving machinery plays an important role in most, if not all construction projects. Its usage can, however, present certain risks both to operators and those in the vicinity of the machinery. Here are some safety tips for two very common types of earthmoving equipment.


Excavators are used primarily for the digging of foundations and trenches. An operator's visibility is limited when they are sitting inside this vehicle; as such, many of the accidents involving excavators are caused by the operator moving the machinery in a way that leads to them hitting nearby workers or pedestrians. The operator's inability to clearly view their surroundings can result in them striking people whilst attempting to reverse the vehicle, or trapping and then crushing individuals whilst rotating the equipment towards a building or other immovable structure.

To prevent this from happening, operators must make sure that the area in which they intend to use this equipment is free from any pedestrians or construction workers. To ensure that individuals do not accidentally wander over to the excavator whilst it is in operation, the operator may also need to set up a barrier around the area they will be working in.

The bucket component of excavators can also be quite hazardous; it can break off and fall onto those nearby, or (if overloaded with materials) can destabilise the equipment and cause it to tip over. As such, operators should always check that the bucket is securely attached to the arm of the excavator before they begin to use the equipment and should try to avoid loading it up with too much soil or other materials.

Backhoe loaders

Backhoe loaders are frequently used to break through roads, dig holes, and demolish buildings. The biggest risk associated with this particular type of earthmoving equipment is that it is prone to tipping over; if this happens, both the operator and anyone nearby could be seriously and perhaps fatally injured.

To ensure that the equipment remains stable, the operator should only use it on level, compact ground; sloping loose patches of earth are likely to result in the machinery collapsing or falling to one side. Additionally, operators should make sure that the equipment's stabilisers (the 'legs' which are located at the rear of the vehicle) are extended outwards as far as they will go, in order to achieve maximum levels of stability.

It's also important for the operator to move the bucket as slowly and as gradually as possible; quick, sudden swinging of this component could affect the balance of the earthmoving equipment and cause it to topple over, particularly if the bucket happens to be carrying a heavy load.