Construction managers have a lot on their plate, and one of the never ending aspects of the job is managing inspections for heavy equipment and other assets used on job sites. According to OSHA, 1 in 7 fatalities annually occur in construction, making inspections something to take incredibly seriously.
With accidents caused by heavy equipment obviously a top concern for OSHA, knowing the necessary steps to take in order to keep workers and equipment operators safe is key.
Aside from safety, time out of service is also a huge concern for contractors, so building out an inspection process to keep equipment well maintained is also important.
In this post, we’ll discuss three best practices to keep in mind related to inspecting heavy equipment, what to know to stay compliant, and how to make these routine checklists a lot easier for everyone on your team.
What to Know About Inspections for Heavy Equipment and Heavy Duty Haulers
Simply put, routine inspections for both motor carriers hauling construction equipment and heavy equipment like bulldozers or excavators is essential to safety and compliance. The goal being not only to keep equipment operating as it should, but to prevent injury to your employees or to those around them.
With this in mind, there are a few basic inspection-related best practices to know when it comes to both operating and hauling heavy equipment:
- Heavy duty hailers with a DOT # are required to comply with FMCSA requirements, including daily Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs)
- Annual inspections of heavy duty equipment are required for cranes and other heavy equipment
- Heavy equipment should pass daily visual inspections before use by qualified operators
- Many heavy equipment manufacturers (like Caterpillar and others) can offer their own inspectors for customers to utilize
- Manufacturers typically provide inspection checklists you can use or easily convert to a digital format with inspection apps like Whip Around
Having an employee get injured because of negligence is bad enough, but injuries can further damage your business due to time lost, the cost to replace injured workers, higher worker’s compensation premiums, and potential fines and legal liabilities.
1. Understand OSHA Inspection Guidelines for Heavy Equipment
There are a couple of types of inspections you’ll generally come across relating to heavy equipment. First are the daily equipment inspections carried out by operators on jobsites. The second type are the more in-depth preventative maintenance inspections performed by a professional.
Keep in mind, it’s important to refer to specific OSHA inspection guidelines in place for the various types of heavy construction equipment you may have in operation. This will also give you insight as to when construction equipment should be inspected based on type, usage, and other factors.
One example is frequency (i.e. daily, monthly, or annual inspections) as well as whether or not documentation is required. As always, you should refer to OSHA for these safety guidelines depending on the assets you have.
Annual, monthly, and daily inspections are required by OSHA for some equipment types
As mentioned earlier, for some equipment like cranes and derricks outlined in 1926 Subpart CC, OSHA requires annual inspections be performed by a qualified person, in addition to giving guidance on repairs. Outside of annual inspections, it’s important to understand what may be required for initial inspections, functional inspections, frequent inspections, and even periodic inspections.
Inspection frequency outlined by OSHA is sometimes contingent on how often the piece of heavy machinery is used, but as a general rule, conducting some form of a daily inspection is a best practice and simplified with a dedicated inspection solution in place.
Since a lack of compliance can bring legal trouble, it’s also wise to always check with your state or locality for additional guidelines and recommendations.
Differences in equipment types
As an example of some of these differences, bulldozers and other equipment with parts that can be raised or lowered must always be parked with these parts either fully lowered or blocked when not in use. Most manufacturers will provide an inspection checklist you can use that includes these inspection types grouped in categories like:
- On the ground inspections
- The engine compartment
- On the machine, outside the cab
- Inside the cab
Building out customized inspection forms is a huge benefit of going digital, since paper forms aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution when multiple equipment types are involved. Managers can also customize what’s required during inspection, like forcing a photo to be taken.
2. Understand DOT Regulations for Inspecting and Securing Heavy Equipment
OSHA safety requirements aren’t the only ones you’ll need to worry about when it comes to your inspection process. Any time heavy machinery is transported to jobsites, DOT regulations come into play. To ensure the safety of your crew and other motorists, as well prevent damage to your expensive equipment, it’s important to understand the following requirements:
- The DOT considers heavy equipment to be anything that weighs over 10,000 pounds and operates on wheels or tracks.
- Their regulations regarding the safe transport of these machines is broken down into two categories, load limits and load securing.
Cargo Securement and Load Limits
For example, a minimum of four tiedowns must be used to secure heavy equipment when on a hauler, and the FMCSA recommends one tie-down every 10 feet. This is an important inspection item to add to your company’s daily DVIR checklist.
Depending on the type of construction equipment your company uses may determine what’s needed. You can refer to Section 3.8.1 of the FMCSA’s Cargo Securement Rules for more information.
Since things like tie-down instructions may not be intuitive for all employees, creating documentation inside a digital inspection solution (with images and step-by-step instructions) can help not only to stay compliant and safe, but reduce mistakes that may otherwise occur.
3. Use a Solution to Make Inspections, Maintenance and Compliance Stress-Free
Keeping track of OSHA requirements, the specific inspection points for a variety of heavy equipment types, plus any FMCSA (DOT) regulations regarding the transportation of this equipment can mean a lot of paperwork.
Not only will you need multiple forms often times, but you’ll also need a system in place to track needed repairs and flag potential issues.
Thankfully, modern technology allows you to streamline that process by replacing paperwork with a simple mobile app used by your operators and employees. All this collected data can also be referenced at any time by management.
Use the Whip Around App for Inspections and Maintenance
With Whip Around fleet inspection and maintenance software, your employees will be able to perform inspections with ease, and have this information immediately sent to management or mechanics working to repair issues.
If you’d like to see how our software can help you better keep track of the inspection and maintenance feeds of your assets, contact us today to schedule a short demo. Our knowledgeable experts will be glad to answer any questions you may have.