Workplace safety has become such a huge issue in some places that one could almost be forgiven for assuming a degree of paranoia. This is especially true of government bodies who are constantly coming out with new regulations for workplaces. When it comes to heavy equipment operations, awareness is really one of the central issues. Like driving a car, heavy equipment operators need to be constantly on the look out for problems created by others, not necessarily themselves. This could be someone walking in front (or behind) your equipment or someone driving or operating other vehicles or machinery around you.
There is a bit of a paradox that can develop over time for heavy equipment operators. As an operator becomes highly skilled at operating their equipment, it requires less direct attention. For example, an experienced operator never needs to look at their controls – they know instinctively which lever or pedal they operating. You would think that this would enable an operator to spend more time focusing on what their equipment is doing, and what others are doing around them. Sometimes, the opposite is true – the operator wanders into a daydream-like state, operating their equipment on auto pilot – car drivers often experience this, often driving from A to B and not remembering anything about the trip.
So whilst awareness is an important issue, it is only going to be effective if you can remain focused on what you are doing and not letting your mind wander. Much of this will stem from your heavy equipment training. Operators who are trained to constantly monitor their equipment and the environment around them are generally much safer. This focus on the task is a habit that must be learned then developed in the workplace.
When undertaking heavy equipment training, check to see if your training organization has an effective safety component in their training rather than a token safety module that really doesn’t develop good habits. Develop those habits during training and you’ll be starting your career off on the right foot.