January 12, 2015

12 Tips for Machine Safety

Safety inspections should be an essential part of your machine upkeep routine. Not only are they necessary for the well-being of your crew, they are also an important step to keep your machines operating efficiently and issue-free. Fortunately, these frequently overlooked practices are some of the easiest to perform.

The following tips will help ensure operator safety, prevent fires, and keep your equipment working smoothly. Many inspections can be conducted monthly, while a few may be needed more often depending on individual operating conditions. When in doubt, check with your dealer.

Operator Environment:

  • Check the polycarbonate windows of the cab for effective protection and good visibility. Make sure all windows are in place and intact – not gouged, cracked, or seriously scratched. Gouges, cracks, and deep scratches can compromise a window's integrity and increase the likelihood of breaking or shattering upon impact with branches or other objects.
  • Wash the windows with an approved cleaning solution. All polycarbonates are not the same – even on similar models from the same manufacturer – so check each individual machine's manual to be sure you are using a solution that will not scratch or compromise the window's integrity.
  • Inspect the screen guards over the windows and cab openings. Be sure they're secure and in good condition.
  • Check the handholds around the cab and service areas to make sure they’re secure.
  • Check the steps on cabs and walkways – non-skid surfaces should be intact. If any non-skid material is worn or missing, have your dealer repair or replace it.
  • Inspect operator seat belts and safety harnesses. Also, make sure your operators are using them properly.
  • Inspect fire extinguishers and water tanks to be sure they’re operable and easily accessible. Check the water pressure of the tanks.

Belly Pans, Side Shields, and Access Guards:

  • Each of these essential safety components should be inspected monthly at a minimum, but specific operating conditions may call for more frequent intervals. For instance, in hardwood forests, autumn leaves can quickly accumulate in belly pans, necessitating more frequent cleanings to minimize fire risk.
  • Clean out the pans, shields, and guards as necessary with compressed air or a pressure washer. Clean, debris-free equipment increases your odds of finding a small problem such as a minor fluid leak before it can become a larger, costlier issue.
  • Make sure all guards are secure and not bent.

Felling Head Debris:

  • Debris in felling heads can affect performance and generate system heat.
  • Debris can block or break fittings, force hydraulic hoses out of position, and cause unnecessary wear no parts, so it's important for both operators and maintenance crews to be on constant alert and to remove debris as soon as it begins to accumulate.
  • Make sure all guards are secure and not bent.

Playing it safe with regular inspections will go a long way toward optimized working conditions for your crew, increased productivity, reduced downtime, and lower operating costs – it really does pay to include these simple tips in your maintenance routine.