Top tips for excavator safety on the job site : Hirepool

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Top tips for excavator safety on the job site

Although using equipment like excavators can help you get jobs done faster, there are certainly risks associated with using anything that large on site. 

Worksafe report an average of 433 injuries on construction sites per month so the more you can be aware of site safety to avoid injury, the better. 

Excavation can be a dangerous job and operators should be well versed in the appropriate health and safety requirements and regulations before working. 


The benefits of using an excavator from Hirepool

Whether it’s residential or commercial work, time is money and everyone is looking to save where they can. Manually digging holes or excavating is certainly a thing of the past when you have great options like hiring equipment. When you look at the cost of weeks of manual labour versus days of equipment hire, there is no competition - hiring is smarter. 


Here are some other great benefits of hiring:

  • Flexibility when you need it 

Whether you know you need to dig as part of the job, or the task comes up unexpectedly, Hirepool have the gear ready and just a click away when you need it. 

  • Pick from a range of sizes  

Not every excavation job is the same, some require a long reach arm or a high reach for dumping, so picking the right size is key to make it as easy as possible.

  • The equipment is safe and maintained by our expert team 

Although borrowing equipment from a mate might seem like a good idea, the safest option is to ensure you have all the instructions needed and that you are using equipment that has been checked over thoroughly to save potential accidents.

  • Have it delivered 

Taking time saving a step further, the Hirepool team also offer a drop off service for some sizes of excavators, or can hire out specialist trailers to help you get the gear there.


Now that you’ve got your digger hire organised, lets get into the top tips for excavator safety on site.


Tip 1: Know the risks

If you can pre-empt the things that could go wrong on site when using large equipment, you will be in a much better position to avoid those things from happening. 


Here are some things to consider with regards to risks: 

  • Risk management requires planning 

The point of risk management is to assess potential risks before they result in safety issues, rather than trying to fix things once they have already gone wrong. Taking a little bit of time to go over your plan puts you in a much better position on site. 

  • Worksafe recommend 5 steps for risk management 

There is no need to guess when it comes to risk planning, Worksafe has the resources to make the process easy and practical. 


Here are 5 things they recommend: 

  • Avoid underground services and structures 

Make sure to keep your distance when digging.

  • Daily checks

Everytime you dig things change, so check the excavation at the start and the end of the day.

  • Safe access

Make sure you have no obstructions getting on to your site, and out.

  • Prevent collapse

Even if the excavated material is heavy it doesn’t mean it will stay where you dump it, so think about where you place it and what risks this could pose.

  • Barriers

The safety of the people on site is the most important thing, ensure there are barriers up to make sure any dumped material does not create a risk for your team or those working on site.  



Tip 2: Know your excavator 

A lack of knowledge when it comes to large equipment like excavators could put not only the people on site at risk, but the site foundations too.  

Here are some things you should check first when doing an excavation:

  • Read the manual or user guide 

The best way to get a thorough understanding of the equipment you are using is to read the manual. There may be things you haven’t even thought of, so take the time to get a full background on the excavator you are using. If hiring an excavator from Hirepool, the team will take you through the correct operation. 

  • Ask questions at time of hire 

The team at Hirepool have all the practical knowledge and tips you could need in order to make the job smooth and painless, and it’s always better to ask rather than assume you will figure it out later. Having a ‘She’ll be right’ attitude will not serve you well here. 

  • Get comfortable with the controls

Try and do a practice run in a safe clear space with no hazards or materials in the way, rather than jumping straight in to the job. 

  • Check the equipment alert lights 

If you are hiring equipment for a longer length of time make sure you stay on top of basic light checks such as fuel and oil so your job progress is not delayed.

  • Maintenance

Grease points and regular maintenance are something that should also be considered during a long term hire.


Tip 3: Use the right gear for the job

It’s imperative to make sure that you choose the right kind of excavator for your job not only from a financial point of view, but also to ensure you can actually complete the work. 

Here are some tips on choosing the right gear: 

  • Check out the guide 

Hirepool have a comprehensive guide on choosing the right excavator for your job. You can find more details there on the wide range of sizes and excavator attachments to choose from.

  • Assess the site size before hiring

An excavator that is too small could mean you can’t reach the excavation spot or dump site, and one that is too large could cause issues with access. If you aren’t sure what you need ask the experts at Hirepool.

  • Consider what material you are excavating

The type of ground or material you are excavating will also determine the type of equipment you need as different weights have different equipment requirements. The wrong option may strain the machinery and cause problems.  

  • Use the correct bucket and attachments for a job

Let the team at Hirepool know what job you are tackling and they can advise what attachment option is going to be the best for you. We have a wide range of breaker, compactor, clamp and ripper attachments to help you get the job done smarter. 


excavator 2

Tip 4: Understand tail-swing 

The tail of an excavator will move in the opposite direction of the front of the excavator, and depending on the type of space you are working in, that movement can affect your ability to manoeuvre. 


The different types vary in terms of how far the tail extends beyond the tracks, so if the wrong one is chosen you could cause damage to things in close proximity. 

The tail swing options are:

  • Zero tail swing

Gives more flexibility when working in tight spaces. 

  • Limited tail swing

Provides more stability and maneuverability. 

  • Standard tail swing 

Provides the greatest reach.


plot hole


Tip 5: Check before you dig 

Using an excavator to dig is fast, but that also means digging in the wrong spot without first checking what lies beneath could also create a problem quickly.  


Here are some things to consider before you start digging:

  • Check site plans to see what is below

Whether it’s a drainage pipe, underground cabling or another essential service line, it’s imperative these are not disturbed otherwise the job could become more complicated and risk the safety and wellbeing of your crew. Make sure you use up-to-date plans and consider the use of detection equipment. 

  • Check what’s overhead too 

Just as important as what is below, is what is overhead. Look out for things like power lines and trees when maneuvering the excavator arm. Catching something above could cause issues to not only your site but other properties nearby. 

  • Take advantage of 

Use this great resource to obtain relevant information about your site before you dig

  • Dig a pilot hole 

Do this with a shovel to do a manual check before you dig.

  • Check for people in the area

Some people, especially young kids, may be keen to check out what work is being done with an excavator. To avoid any accidents, it’s  important to make sure they keep their distance and crews are especially alert if working in a neighbourhood with high pedestrian traffic. 


Tip 6: Mind your speed and route 

Another important safety tip is to be careful when navigating your excavator around the site. The speed at which you move and the path you take can have a direct impact on the safety of the people on site, and the route you take can be the difference between being efficient or getting the equipment stuck. 


Here are some tips for navigation: 

  • Plan your route through the site 

Always choose ground that is even and as firm as possible. Keep an eye out for holes, ditches and inclines.  

  • Check for obstructions

Before you start moving make sure you check for anything that will get in your way such as rocks and other pieces of equipment or construction materials.

  • Go at a safe speed. 

To move your excavator around the site it’s recommended to go at a safe speed. Too slow and the excavator could become stuck, too fast and you may compromise control. Always be extra alert when moving your excavator and be prepared to stop suddenly, especially if there are other people on site as things are likely to be changing all the time. 

  • Make sure you extend the track base before you travel with the excavator (unless going through narrow ground) 

This allows extra stability when moving the excavator.


Get it done with Hirepool 

We have a variety of excavators available for hire throughout New Zealand. You can book one online or get in touch with your local branch to talk about selecting the right gear for your project.