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What Should I Know About Backhoe Safety?

By J. Beam
Updated May 17, 2024
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Backhoe safety, like safety while operating any other piece of construction equipment, should be the combined effort of both a company and its employees in order to be effective. The US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) has policies regarding the workplace practice of backhoe safety, along with safe practices for many other types of equipment.

One of the primary issues surrounding effective backhoe safety is training. Equipment operators are specially trained to operate heavy equipment, and their employers should require annual OSHA safety training. A company that allows untrained workers to operate a backhoe or any other piece of heavy machinery without the proper training can be fined. Every company that utilizes heavy equipment should take the precaution to allow only trained operators to use their equipment.

Standard backhoe safety practices should be implemented every time the equipment is used. Operators should perform an equipment check prior to use to ensure that all lights and signals, tires, connections, and guards are in proper working order and that no part of the equipment is loose or malfunctioning. Backhoe safety also requires malfunctioning or damaged pieces of equipment to be repaired before use.

Backhoe safety while operating should always include a thorough check of workplace surroundings and a check on all workers and obstructions in the vicinity. Workers on the ground in the vicinity of operational equipment should wear flagging garments and the proper safety gear. Operating a backhoe at the proper reduced speed when turning or working in slick conditions is a must. Rollovers are one of the leading causes of backhoe injuries and fatalities. Operators should also be aware of all buried and overhead power and gas lines as part of the backhoe safety regimen, as electrocution is another common cause of equipment fatality.

No employer should require a worker to operate a backhoe without having successfully completed a backhoe safety training class. If you find yourself working under conditions that require you to operate or work near someone who is operating a backhoe or other heavy equipment without proper training, notify your local OSHA office.

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Discussion Comments
By anon954750 — On Jun 03, 2014

First of all, there are several different sections in OSHA which deal with different industries. I'll make the assumption you are referring to construction which would be OSHA 29 CFR 1926 Construction Standards. The short answer is Post 3 is wrong.

The long answer is: The is no 100 percent of the time hard hat requirement. In OSHA's words and paraphrasing: The hard hat is necessary when, by process or method, a hazard that could cause a head injury exists in the work zone. So if there is no hazard then there is no requirement. Now, keep in mind that OSHA only sets minimum standards and your worksite may have a health and safety plan that requires hard hats 100 percent of the time. Other agencies and contracts can require above what OSHA requires but none can require less.

By anon169357 — On Apr 20, 2011

No OSHA does not require an operator to wear a hard hat while operating a backhoe with an enclosed cab, but does require a hard hat for entry and exit of machine.

By anon94186 — On Jul 07, 2010

Does osha require a operator of a backhoe with a enclosed cab to have a hard hat on while inside the cab?

By anon4106 — On Oct 03, 2007

simple question... the two stabilizer bars that go down to the ground for support of the backhoe. My question is... do you put them down all the way and make the tractor wheels come off the ground or do you keep the stabilizers down along with the wheels for more support?

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