Excavator Hazards

Excavator Hazards

Feb 09, 2023

Excavators are large, heavy vehicles used on construction sites to remove earth, soil and rocks. They’re needed when a site requires foundations, trenches or any kind of holes dug before or during the construction. These vehicles are large and, when operated without care, can cause a number of different hazards to the operator and those working on the site. In this article, some of the known hazards associated with excavators are detailed with information on how to avoid and reduce these risks. 

Moving the excavator

One of the biggest hazards associated with excavators is collisions with a pedestrian when the excavator is moving. This could be in a forward position, reverse, or when the excavator's arm is in motion. Excavators are large, heavy pieces of machinery; any collision with a pedestrian when moving is a serious issue that could result in a fatality. This hazard needs to be reduced at all costs to keep everyone on site safe. To keep pedestrians safe, they should only be allowed near the excavator at any point if they’re working on the machinery or it is currently not in use. Fencing or barriers should be put in place to indicate where pedestrians can and cannot walk. Pedestrians shouldn’t be expected to travel past a working excavator to get into the site, exit the site or use any facility. Pedestrians and large machinery, such as an excavator, should be kept away from each other at all times.


Poor on-site visibility can increase risk and result in an accident. Therefore, visibility is important when selecting the excavator and buying equipment to be used on-site. You should select an excavator with good visibility; modern equipment will use the latest technology to keep the workers safe. This could include sensors and cameras or even an excavator protection system which intelligently identifies any risks around the excavator during use. Along with good visibility, these systems can reduce the risk associated with using heavy machinery. In addition to selecting the right equipment, high-visibility jackets should be worn by all workers and visitors on site. Hard hats should also be worn to protect people from falling objects and provide additional visibility. When using an excavator in low light, additional lighting should be used to provide the operator with a safe level of visibility. No driver should operate the machinery without a good level of visibility. 

Vehicle marshaller

When an excavator is moving around the site, a vehicle marshaller should be in place to direct the operator and ensure that pedestrians are in a safe position. Pedestrians should be provided with different routes that don’t cross that of any vehicles; this needs to be outlined in the traffic management plan. Many construction companies use specialised businesses with the right experience, knowledge, and qualifications to devise traffic management plans in Melbourne and other cities. They will do a full site inspection and risk assessment to identify where traffic enters, moves around and exits the site. The plan will then include a series of measures that need to be put in place to control traffic and minimise the risk of injury. A traffic management plan will also provide information about the job and responsibility of each worker on-site, including any vehicle marshallers.


When operating machinery, the right training is needed to reduce the risk of an accident or injury. The proper training certificates should be provided and checked before a driver is allowed to use an excavator. Without the right training, there is a much higher risk of the driver colliding with a pedestrian. Pedestrians and other workers on the site also need to be trained to understand the dangers of getting close to an excavator. They should be fully aware of the areas where they’re permitted to stand and walk and other routes that are only accessible when driving vehicles. All plant and vehicle marshalls also need the correct training to direct the traffic around the site and know what to do in an emergency situation. 

When the right precautions are taken, the risks associated with driving and using excavators can be minimised. All equipment and machinery, including excavators, should be regularly inspected for issues, and a maintenance plan should be put in place to keep the machinery in good condition. 

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