Compaction Roller Safety | How To Avoid Rollovers on Sloped Jobsites
Every year, construction workers die in rollover accidents. No cost is greater than the loss of human life, especially considering these accidents are preventable. The following reminders about compaction roller safety are just as applicable to any other construction equipment.
Newer compaction rollers are designed to be more stable. They have a lower center of gravity, wider base and low speed options. But when your jobsite terrain is hilly or you’re working an embankment, every machine is at risk of rolling over. Operators simply must be more vigilant and more careful in order to protect themselves. Here’s how you – and they – can remain productive while focusing on jobsite safety.
Compaction rollers should have two critical safety features:
- ROPS. Do not operate a machine that isn’t equipped with a rollover protection structure. This is the only thing that will keep the operator from getting crushed if the equipment does roll over.
- Reliable seat belts. Always wear your seat belt – it’s the only thing that will keep the operator in place within the ROPS in the event of a rollover. Do not operate a machine with damaged or worn seat belts – replace them first. Make sure seat belts are adequately sized, too, because if they don’t fit properly they won’t work.
Safety in motion
- Always wear your hard hat, even when inside an enclosed cab. Even when you’re wearing your seat belt, it’s easy to hit your head on some hard surface in an accident.
- If you’re working near a slope, operate the machine so your seat is parallel to the edge. With the end constantly in sight, you can stay far enough away to prevent the roller or wheels from slipping onto the slope.
- If you get too close for some reason, immediately stop the machine and set the parking brake. Dismount so you can assess whether it will be safer to move forward or backward to get back onto the flat surface.
- If you’re working on a slope, always drive the machine up or down, never along the side of the hill. Angled operation makes the machine more vulnerable to sliding or tipping.
- When traveling on a grade, use a low speed and do not change gears.
- Never park the machine on sloping ground unless you have no choice. If you must park near a slope, at least be sure the footing is firm so the equipment won’t slide.
- Never exit the machine without first setting the parking brake.
If your machine does tip over
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of injury. Most important is to stay in place – trying to jump out of the cab is the riskiest thing you can do because it increases the chance you will get caught under the ROPS. Instead, prepare for the impact by:
- Pulling your elbows and knees in close to your body.
- Holding on tightly.
- Leaning uphill (away from the impact).
Need a more detailed refresher? Review the compaction roller safety guidelines established by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. Let’s make 2016 the year of jobsite safety, so no construction worker dies due to a roller accident.