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Date PostedOctober 10, 2012

White Card Update: Learn How to Safely Operate Basic Equipment

(Photo: Adam Hickmott / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Even the most basic equipment requires adherence to safety measures.  Even if you feel you know all about a certain piece of equipment, it is worth making sure you are perfectly knowledgeable about how to safely operate it on a construction site.

Some of the most basic and common of equipment have caused accidents and injury on site, most often because workers develop a more relaxed attitude towards these common pieces of equipment resulting in incidents.Construction work in particular usually requires the use of a wide range of plant and equipment and severe injury and even death can result if these items are not used safely.

The golden rule of plant and equipment use is that they should be checked before use for any faults. Any problems that are identified should be sorted out before using again.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are probably the most common form of tools used on a construction site. When utilizing these tools make sure you use the right tool for the task. Also use the appropriate PPE for the job, for example if the task may result in eye injury, use the appropriate eye protection. Hand tools are usually smaller so use a lanyard to secure the tool if it is feasible to do so, to stop the tool from falling and injuring a worker below.

Electric Power Tools

When using electrical power tools there is a risk of the operator being electrocuted.To minimize the risk of electrocution all electrical power tools should be tested and immediately tagged. Only use electric tools if they are in excellent working condition, any damaged leads, plugs, connectors, guards and other parts should not be used.

Also ensure that leads are kept away from heat sources, wet areas, sharp objects and other places where they may be damaged. This can be done by running cables at a height above the ground to keep them away from water and prevent damage.

Tools without insulated hand grips should not be used, neither should equipment that is overheating. Also ensure when operating electric power tools that the correct PPE are used such as wearing non-conductive footwear

Compressed air

Another possible hazard on construction sites are presented by compressed air which has the potential to cause serious, possibly irreversible injury. When working with compressed air workers should never direct the air jets against any part of your body or against co-worker’s bodies. Just like electrical equipment check that equipment is functional before use and if it has any damage or defect it shouldn’t be used. It is also important to your health and safety that PPE not be discarded, especially ear and eye protection.

Cranes and lifting gear

Cranes and lifting equipment can cause enormous damage due to the magnitude of items they carry. There is potential for injury of the operator as well as any workers on the construction site that are in a close enough vicinity to the crane.

Although all operators should be adequately trained to operate cranes and heavy equipment it is also useful for workers in the vicinity of the cranes operation to be familiar with the basic safety rules of crane use because any incidents may affect them as well. Dogger and riggers also need to be appropriately licensed.

Before beginning work ensure that the crane and equipment is adequate for the task at hand. Also find out the weight and mass of the load to be lifted beforehand to determine the capacity of the equipment required to lift such a load.

As with all equipment, cranes need to be checked and properly maintained. If they are defective in any way, they should be fixed before use.  Also erect signs and barricades to protect other workers and people on site from the injury.

Although there are a variety of tools and equipment that could injure workers on a construction site and their uses may vary, there are some basic safety rules apply to them all.

Ensure that they (tools and equipment) are properly functioning without defects, test and tag before use. Also ensure that proper PPE is used appropriately for the task being undertaken. Also ensure that the hazard is separated from the rest of the workers on site to ensure that they are not inadvertently injured. By remaining vigilant and mindful of your safety training, tools and equipment can be used effectively without any mishaps.


Steven Asnicar is regarded as a leader across many fields of industry. In particular, his specialisation across the health, infrastructure, construction, resource and utility sectors has seen him successfully change the dynamics of these industries through the introduction of new strategic, marketing, training and technical frameworks. Steven works closely with industry peak bodies such as Safework Australia, Australian Logistics Council, National Advisory for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment (NATESE) and the Council of Australian Governments in the development of new delivery standards and industry specific programs.

Posted in Blue Card, General Construction, White Card, White Card Construction Site Safety Articles Tagged with: , , ,


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