When small parts fail, the consequences can be huge.
When operating heavy equipment, including boom and scissor lifts, a pre-shift or pre-trip inspection is critical. These inspections include a visual check for a range of problems, including low fluid levels, tire cuts, loose or missing parts, cracked welds, hydraulic leaks, and fuel leaks. They also include an operational inspection with the engine running to make sure everything’s working as it should.
A good visual inspection can be done in a matter of minutes. Yet often times, operators gloss over machine parts that can and do fail.
For example, lug nuts can become loose on scissor lifts, causing the wheels to fall off. This process doesn’t happen instantly. But, I’ve seen lug nuts loosen up in as little as three days. For this reason, it is imperative that operators follow manufacturer guidelines that call for daily pre-shift inspections of lug nuts and tires.
Other parts I’ve seen fail, especially in boom, scissor and reach forklifts, are the pins — pins that hold the cylinders, pins that hold the sections together. Operators should always make sure when performing their pre-trip inspection that every pin has a form of retainment so that the pin doesn’t start walking out. It could be a bolt, a cotter pin or a clip.
If a piece of construction equipment is found to be defective in any way during an inspection or during operation, it should be taken out of service immediately. The risk an operator may be taking simply isn’t worth it.
Mike Burns is a division safety trainer for United Academy, the training arm of United Rentals. He previously served as a service manager and a branch and district safety champion for United Rentals.