Safety Watch: A safe exit

The accidents: A man stopped to clear debris from a dozer, getting out of the cab. When the dozer started to move, he tried getting back behind the controls, but slipped off the machine and was crushed beneath it. In another accident, the operator stopped the dozer, engine running, waiting for a maintenance crew to examine a fuel filter. As the crew approached, he started to climb out of the dozer and had his left leg on the track when the machine began to move backward. The operator tried to jump back into the cab, but slipped, and was dragged under the machine.

The bottom line: Before you leave a dozer cab for any reason, make sure you have taken precautions to make sure the machine doesn’t move in your absence. These include:

  • Stopping the machine using the service brake
  • Lowering any attachments to the ground or placing them in a secure position
  • Shifting controls to neutral/park and locking (if so equipped)
  • Engaging the parking brake

To fully disengage the machine, continue with:

  • Idling the engine for a short cool-down period to help prevent trash fires
  • Stopping the engine
  • Cycling all hydraulic controls to relieve system pressures
  • Removing the key
  • Shutting off the master electric switch (if so equipped)

When you leave the machine after it’s been properly shut down, always maintain a three-point contact with the steps and hand holds and face the machine. Never jump off a machine. Be careful of slippery conditions on the platform, steps, ladders and hand holds when leaving a machine, and block tracks if you’re on a slope or incline.

During maintenance procedures, if adjustments must be made with the engine running, always work as a two-person team, with one person sitting in the operator’s seat while the other works on the machine.

Another precaution with dozers involves working on slopes. When working on a slope, push or drift material downhill, if possible. When pushing material over a cliff or steep embankment, leave a small windrow on the edge, which will allow you to maintain a safe distance from the edge.

Information for this Safety Watch was gathered from news reports and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. It is meant for general information only; to order AEM’s “Crawler Tractor/Loader Safety Manual” go to