Workplace Safety Awareness

Visual Observations

Before you start operating the loading shovel, you need to take stock of your surroundings and check for possible hazards. Having a full understanding of your working environment is the key to keeping yourself, and others, safe during operations.

Have a look around the site and notice, in particular, the following:

  • Ditches, excavations and soft ground.
  • Other workers and pedestrians.
  • Other machines and vehicles.
  • Overhead hazards such as power lines and height restrictions.
  • Weather and atmospheric conditions – fog, mist, dust, rain etc.
  • Any nearby buildings or scaffolding.

Check your machine and ensure the windows and mirrors are clean and useable.

By being aware of the hazards around you, you are reducing the risk of an incident occurring. Operating your equipment safely means sticking to site speed limits and rules, avoiding areas with overhead hazards and working safely around other machinery and people. Weather and ground conditions can bring additional risks, so plan to go carefully and steadily if the environment demands it.

Loading shovels in action on an organic waste processing site

What possible hazards can you spot in the photo?

I have spotted the following:

  • Other vehicles and machinery in the operating area.
  • Concrete pushwalls (the triangular item in the bottom right-hand corner)
  • Large mounds of soil.

This doesn’t mean it is unsafe to work in the area, you just need to be mindful of the obstacles and remain observant whilst operating the shovel.

Planning the Work

It is important to have a good knowledge of the work site before commencing operations and your workplace observations will help with this. The type of work and material to be handled will also need to be considered when preparing the shovel for work. Part of your planning operations will include adhering to any safe operating procedures (SOPs) issued for the task.

Think about the following points:

  • Where is the material to be moved to?
  • Is it to be moved only with the loading shovel?
  • Will it be loaded onto a haul truck?
  • Is it to be stockpiled?
  • Are you digging it direct from a face or from a stockpile?

When you are satisifed with your working environment and are aware of any potential hazards, you can start to operate the loading shovel. Move onto the lesson ‘Operator Training’ for the next stage in the process.