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What does a Heavy Equipment Operator do?

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Talent.com talent.com
Answered September 22 2021
Career Expert at Talent.com
If you've ever encountered a construction site or worked in a warehouse, you will be somewhat familiar with Heavy Equipment Operators and what the position entails. It's hard to miss a crane that's visible in your city's skyline, inside of which is your expert operator, handling the equipment with ease.  
Focus and concentration are what it takes to operate a crane and other heavy equipment such as forklifts, bulldozers, and excavators. Heavy Equipment Operators will have spent hours training to receive licensing to operate these vehicles, handling them with care while following safety guidelines and practices. Together with the foreman supervising the construction site, Heavy Equipment Operators will make judgment calls about how best to manage the machinery. The working conditions may be no longer safe, requiring a second look at blueprints and plans to find a solution.  
Regular maintenance for the equipment is also required while on the job, including cleaning and greasing, minor repairs, and emergency adjustments. They also participate in the routine inspection of the machinery, completing pre-operational checks (e.g., air brakes check), keeping track of equipment's status, and reporting defects.  
With all inspection and safety protocols out of the way, Heavy Equipment Operators can focus on the task at hand, which is to operate the vehicle to transport construction materials between sites and various locations on-site, say from the ground materials to an upper floor of a high rise under construction.  
Roles and responsibilities of a Heavy Equipment Operator
Here's a non-exhaustive list of everyday tasks Heavy Equipment Operators are required to complete:
  • Conduct preventive maintenance on all equipment, reporting any malfunction to the Construction Manager 
  • Perform daily safety and maintenance checks, keeping equipment clean and in excellent conditions.  
  • Use heavy equipment to load, move, or spread different materials (e.g., earth and rock) or help erect or demolish structures. 
  • Locating underground pipes and wires before beginning any excavation work 
  • Assemble equipment and joining attachments on machinery 
  • Ensure all heavy equipment used follows all safety standards and legal regulations.  
  • Startup and shut down of all equipment, always following safety procedures. 
  • Practice workplace safety always and respecting all traffic regulations while operating heavy equipment 
  • Understand how to use the equipment in advance to prevent any situation that could threaten a person's safety or that could affect the current work; and  
  • Store all equipment safely and securely at the end of each workday.  
  • Clear construction areas from debris and other hazardous materials before starting a project 
  • Perform maintenance and construction activities when not operating vehicles 
  • Install and repairing guide rails and fences 
  • Ensure construction sites are well-maintained (e.g., litter cleaning, grass cutting, and weed trimming) 
  • Assist coworkers (e.g., loading and unloading materials and pushing other equipment when extra traction/assistance is required).  
  • Advise the Construction Manager or Foreman on any requirements for maintenance or repairs, completing written reports as required.