Safety Tips for Transporting Construction Machinery

04 January 2019

Your mission: preparing your construction machinery for safe, reliable transport.

Stress levels: over 9000!

The shipment of heavy equipment is no easy feat (no pun intended). It always requires careful planning and the ability to foresee any possible problems which could result in an unexpected accident. One minor oversight and things can turn from bad to worse, jeopardizing your personnel’s safety and equipment reliability.

The stakes are estimated to be even higher for construction companies, compared to other industries. According to the International Labour Organization, the construction industry has the highest rate of recorded accidents.

When it comes to the hauling of heavy equipment, construction machinery was the primary source of fatal collisions recorded between 1992 and 2010. For instance, the rate of vehicle accidents that happened on road construction sites in 2010, was double the number of injuries occurring in the entire construction industry in 2008. Nearly 500 construction workers died from accidents related to heavy machinery and vehicles between 2003 and 2007.

The numbers paint a clear picture: this is a dangerous industry to work in. You must take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of your people, especially when it comes to transporting heavy equipment.

Here’s what you need to remember.

Select the Right Trailer

Before planning the route, getting your equipment ready for transport, and collecting any permits required, you need to determine the right type of trailer for the job. It’s one of the most important parts of the process and getting it right can ensure a safe, stress-free travel period.

Review the most common types of trailers for heavy haul and see which one fits your specifications best.

  • Flatbed Trailers: This type of trailer features a flat platform without any walls or railings.
  • Lowboy Trailer: The main advantage of this trailer is that it is very close to the ground, making it easy for you to transport equipment as large as 12 feet in height.
  • Drop Deck Trailer: As the name suggests, this type of trailer features one drop in the deck height.
  • Extendable Drop Deck Trailer: Similar to the drop deck trailer in design, this version has the added choice to extend the body and carry loads that are longer than the usual container might hold.
  • Gooseneck Trailer: Gooseneck trailers come in a variety of designs, such as fixed, removable, hydraulic or mechanical. Regardless of its design, this trailer works by allowing you to attach it to the hauling.

construction machinery

More often than not, height is the biggest problem when it comes to transporting construction machinery. Remove any accessories, such as the scoop or bucket which could make your equipment bulkier than it already is. Always try to think two steps ahead and identify potential problems that you might come across when loading the equipment to the trailer. Once you have uncovered all this information, you will be able to choose the right one for the job.

Make Sure You Comply with the Regulations

If you don’t want to get the oversize designation status (and the extra stress that comes with it), always remove any accessories that might make your equipment extra heavy or wide. It may seem like a good idea to ship them all together, but it’s usually cheaper and more comfortable than you might think, just doing it separately.

Prepare Your Machinery for Transport

Try to think about any potential problems that you could possible encounter before loading the machinery on the trailer. Are there any parts that might break during this process? If so, then remove them or wrap them in bubble wrap for protection.

Here are some factors to keep in mind when preparing your equipment for hauling:

  • Make sure to disconnect the battery if you want the machinery to start when it reaches its destination;
  • Latch the doors properly. Otherwise, they might open and flap around during the transport;
  • Wash or safely clean your machinery. We know, it’s probably the last thing you want to think about, but clean equipment will make it easier to see if something went wrong on the road.

Securely Attach the Construction Machinery on the Trailer

It may sound like obvious advice, but this needs to be repeated, especially considering the high rate of fatalities occurring in the construction industry.

Always check and double check if the equipment is correctly loaded and stored safely on the trailer.

You are responsible not only for the safety of your workers and the driver involved, but also for anything that happens during the haul. For example, if you’re transporting any hazardous chemicals and part or all of the content spills, you could be endangering an entire ecozystem.

Check with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety to find what you need to remember when transporting heavy construction machinery. Remember that regulations could change from one state to another, so go to fmcsa.dot.gov. to make sure you are always complying with the rules.

construction machinery

Choose Experienced Drivers

Transporting heavy construction machinery is a complex job. That employee who took a family trip across the states and now feels up for the job, isn’t a good idea. You always need someone who has experience in transporting heavy equipment, knows how to load it, and how to unload it safely.

If you don’t feel comfortable hiring just one person for the job, then you could hire someone to load and unload the cargo, as well as someone whose main job it is to drive. Regardless, both should have all the necessary experience.

Plan Your Route

So, you are now confident the trailer you selected is suitable to hold your equipment, the permits are all obtained, and your cargo complies with all the states and federal routes. What’s left now is to plan your route so that you can minimize the time of your journey.

Try to avoid busy roads that tend to get jam-packed or roads that are undergoing construction. Check overall weather and traffic reports to identify any potential problems that might affect your schedule.

Ask for Help

If you feel overwhelmed after reading this article, then we completely understand. Transporting bulky construction machinery from point A to point B is a complex task that requires careful thought. The number of moving pieces is just one of the issues you need to consider. One minor oversight and you might put someone’s life at risk or end up paying tens of thousands of dollars for damaged goods.

If you don’t feel up for the task (maybe you don’t have the proper equipment, experience or qualified personnel), then it would be smart to hire a transportation company to deal with this.

Over to You

Re-read this list twice or maybe three times to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything. Check over any safety regulations when it comes to transporting heavy construction machinery to make sure you always comply with the rules. Plan everything and don’t leave anything to chance. This is a task where you need to be in total control.

construction machinery

Jenny Snook
Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at Initiafy with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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