Best Practices

Proper Excavator Operation

  • Earthmoving projects pose a variety of dangers to excavator operators
  • Preliminary inspections and operating guidelines can help improve productivity on the jobsite

Read the Manufacturer's Manual

First and foremost, make sure you have read and understand the Manufacturer's Operating Manual and pay particular attention to their section on safety.

Assess the ground

Before beginning work, inspect the jobsite for debris, loose soil, holes/ditches, inclines, and other obstacles. Hidden obstacles can cause your machine to slide or result in damage to its components. If the machine catches an edge near any sort of incline or decline, tipping over is possible.

Choose proper attachments

Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for what attachments are suitable to use on your machine to accomplish the required task. Oversized or heavy attachments can compromise the swing motor, resulting in the machine's tipping over or shutting down.

Inspect the adjuster valve frequently

Visually inspect your adjuster valve periodically to make sure it is working properly. If the valve shows signs of leakage, bring your machine in for repair as soon as possible.

Check fuel levels

Check the fuel level before beginning work. Low fuel levels can shut down an excavator unexpectedly, causing a potentially dangerous and unstable situation.

During Operation

Never overload the bucket

Understand your machine's load limits, and do not exceed them. Overloading can cause loss in stability and potential tip-overs.

Do not undercut

An undercut occurs when an operator digs the ground beneath the excavator tracks. Always be aware of the location of the lip of the hole that is being created to avoid a cave-in.

Monitor your track position at all times

When working on any incline or decline, make sure your tracks are pointing up and down the slope to maintain a stable center of gravity at all times. Your tracks should never be parallel to the slope, as this position distributes the weight of the machine unevenly and can cause a rollover.

OSHA Fact Sheet on Trenching and Excavation Safety