Improve Excavator Safety With A Scouting System

4 February 2016
 Categories: Education & Development, Blog

Excavators are powerful pieces of heavy equipment that can be utilized for a wide variety of tasks. However, operators can't see everything during their digs and this may cause a series of dangerous accidents. The following process will help you set up a series of scouts that will help minimize accident risk.  

Understanding Excavator Line Of Vision

Excavator operators generally don't have an incredibly wide range of vision. In fact, it is generally limited to a small area in the front left of the machine. That's because that's the direction the operator is facing. Other aspects, such as the positioning of various parts of the machine, limit their sight.  

As a result, they aren't going to be able to see at the base of the operator (where they are digging) or to the front right. This is where the vast majority of accidents are likely to occur, such as breaking a pipe or threatening the health and safety of someone the operator can't see.

Positioning Your Scouts

When you understand the line of vision limitations of an excavator operator, you know where to position at least one of your scouts: directly in the line of sight. So try to place someone to the front left of the machine, several yards away from where he will be digging. Often, this should be the only scout you need.  

However, it's not a bad idea to position someone to the front right of the machine, at least 20 yards back from the machine. This gives the scout a good line of vision for areas the operator can't see. He can communicate concerns to the other scout, such as collapsing soil, and help avoid serious problems.

Master Hand Gesture Communication

While a scout may be able to communicate verbally with the excavator operator, it's a good idea to create a system of hand gesture communications. Gestures can be a powerful and nearly instantaneous form of communication and ones that don't have to be shouted above the din of the excavator operation.

The following hand gestures are among the most common you'll need to use and are simple enough to be understood immediately: 

  • Waving one hand towards the scout – free to move forward
  • Pointing to left or right – move bucket in that direction
  • Two hands in front of chest, palm up – stop immediately
  • Circling one hand in the air – continue with current activity
  • Holding hands in front of chest and moving back and forth – exposed danger under the bucket, such as pipes or wires

Mastering this simple system will help create a safer and more relaxing work environment for everyone on your job site. Alter it in anyway that works for you, such as using different hand gestures or even utilizing it for other heavy equipment operation.