Sand and Gravel Safety
Working in sand and gravel pits can be very dangerous, the hazards are numerous, and being alert is probably the most important safety tip. There is so much traffic coming and going, flying sand and rocks, water, just to name a few. It’s important to dress properly for the job, keep your sleeves and pant cuffs tight, keep long hair tied up and inside a hard hat, wear safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection is also a must. Don’t wear necklaces, scarves, or rings while you’re working. Always check your footing while getting on and off equipment. Check for uneven, slippery, or cluttered surfaces. Check for equipment not locked / blocked / tagged out.
Post a guard at the access to dumps and high-traffic areas to prevent injury from mobile equipment.
Wear a safety belt or harness with lifeline for both worker and guard. Place your lock and tag on the power source, not just on the nearest switch.
Prohibit equipment from moving while being worked on: Check for power left on, and equipment not blocked against movement.
Secure equipment and parts against movement during maintenance. Take time before starting work to look for potential hazards and plan blocking needs. Use caution when blocking. Avoid pinch points.
Check for poor footing, odd body positions, and tight spaces. Lock out the equipment. Get help, or use mechanical aids to lift heavy or awkward loads. Make sure the work area is clear of debris before starting. Plan the job to avoid twisting with a load.
Changing drive belts and chains: Watch for pinch points and stored energy. Keep hands away from pinch points. Use proper tools. Keep guards in place and maintained. Lock and tag out the equipment before working. Relieve stored energy and block equipment.
Changing tires: Check for heavy loads, and employees working alone. Before beginning tasks, go through a mental “what if” and “what I would do” safety check. Task training is required before attempting any new task. A front-end loader tire weighs more than 200 lb.
Welding: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)-Hardhat, safety glasses, hearing protectors, respirator, welding gloves, boots, coveralls, and fall harness. Goggles or safety glasses should have side shields. Keep all people away from the welding area, or shield the working area with welding curtains.
Conveyors and stationary equipment: Check for active spilling, material rolling on belt, overloaded transfers, and loose guards.
25% of all non maintenance stationary equipment accidents involve being struck by falling objects (usually product spilling from the conveyors). Use skirts, baffles, chains, or guards to contain the material at transfer points. Do not pass barricades in restricted areas. Do not remove spill controls while equipment is running. Secure guards when done. Cleaning tail pulleys and return rollers: Check for poor guarding, and equipment in use or equipment not locked out. Guard all tail pulleys that can be reached at any time. Lock out and tag out the conveyor before removing a guard. Never reach around a guard.
Design guards so the pulley can be cleaned without removing the guard.
17% of all non maintenance stationary equipment accidents occur around return rollers, resulting in several fatalities each year.
Install scrapers rather than cleaning moving idlers. Lock out for manual cleaning. Adjust belts from the return side. Use proper tools.
Never reach around a guard. Be aware of your hand position at all times. Guard all rollers likely to have accidental contact.
Mobile equipment: Check for excessive speed, crossing traffic lanes, and traffic congestion. Follow the rules! Watch your speed, and stay in the proper lanes. Check your equipment (brakes, signals) before each use. Check brakes each time you approach a steep grade or elevated dump. Never move or change direction without using a warning signal or flagger.
Equipment rollover or burial: Avoid excessive speed, steep grades, soft shoulders, unstable high walls, and poor berms. Berms should be at least half as high as the largest tire. Check the ground for soft shoulders (cracks, water, slumps). Never drive on top of a high wall or stockpile that is being loaded out from below.
Use fall protection if working from an unguarded platform. Never work between equipment and high walls, or stockpiles.
Avoid uneven or poor footing, hot or frozen surfaces, and cramped work spaces. Always plan your moves on equipment before working. Inspect all handholds and footholds. Make sure all ladders, footholds, and handholds are in good repair.
Ramps and dumping facilities: Examine the dump site before each dump (berms, ground stability, overhead clearance, traffic). Back in square to the berm or bumper stop. Stay at least one truck length away from the edge of the dump. Always wear your seat belt.
Use consolidated material for berms. Place berms on solid ground, not loose fill. Berms should be mid-axle high as measured on the largest piece of mobile equipment using the travel way. Immediately repair or replace all berms that have been run over or run up against.
Make sure all spotters, alarms, and flashing strobe lights are used as backup warnings. Scan the site and task at hand before starting work. Work as far from moving equipment as possible. Communicate with other workers and make eye contact with them.
Conclusion: Employees should be trained on the procedures, policies, and safe practices of working safely during sand and gravel pit operations. I can’t stress enough the need to be alert and to be aware of your surroundings. Use common sense and be safe out there.