Safety should be at the forefront of every heavy equipment operator or driver’s mind in everything to do. That is not only to protect ourselves, but those around us as we work, but in some environments, we need all the help we can get to ensure that focus on safety is maintained.
Whether operating a truck, crane, lift or other heavy equipment in restricted spaces which can happen often, can really challenge operator skills, but also the safety and stability of the equipment itself. We have all read the stories of bystanders or crewmembers being injured because of a restricted view or similar, and it is important to think about how best to approach that situation before you get into it.
This kind of issues is common, and operators can find themselves in situations where there is limited visibility or other hazards, maybe work in a small city site, working between large trees or even just on ground that has drainage issues and can become unstable quickly. Coping with that needs teamwork and an acknowledgement of the risks involved.
However, teamwork, while central to site safety, is not always straightforward when you throw in large equipment, noisy cabs and limited visibility or uncertain ground. Good communication channels are essential in these conditions, and really, for any kind of operation at all. While many methods are in use, from radios to lights to hand signals, they all have issues.
Visual signals can be an issue in an area of limited visibility, if you cannot see it; it is not a signal after all. Similarly, standard radio contact, on a noisy site and especially in cabs, can be difficult to hear or even impossible, and are awkward for ground teams to use if they are occupied with other tasks. However, this does not mean there are no solutions, some are ideal for this kind of situation, in particular the radio headset.
The radio headset solves most issues, it is not visual communication, so perfect for restricted view sites, and because it is worn on the head, is much less susceptible to the problems of loud cabs, being heard reasonably easily in all situations. Finally, ground workers who are occupied with other tasks can still operate radio headsets easily, receiving warnings or instructions no matter what they are doing.
Good radio headsets should be a crucial party of any site team’s operational plans; they enable immediate communication no matter the situation, and in the case of an emergency, that immediacy even compared to a radio handset, can be the difference between safety and injury, or worse. When planning for safety, it is not enough to simply follow the same plan every time, surroundings and the restrictions they place on operation mean that an approach that fits is always necessary.
Radio headsets are just one tool, but in areas of restricted views or other hazards, they offer a unique solution to communication that improves safety for all.