Originally published 10/17/2017
Do you drive a vehicle for your company, or operate a piece of heavy equipment on the construction site? If so, do you wear your seat belt?
- People give all kinds of reasons for not wearing a seat belt.
- “They’re uncomfortable.”
- “I’m a good driver.”
- “I don’t need to because my vehicle has air bags.”
- “They wrinkle my clothes.”
- “I’m afraid of getting stuck in the vehicle after a crash.”
- And many more.
Seat belts promote safety by keeping you from hitting the windshield, being thrown from a vehicle, or banging around inside the vehicle and hitting the steering wheel or door if you’re in an accident.
In off-road equipment, your seat belt is foremost designed to keep you in your seat in case of a tip-over. Normal human behavior is to try to jump when a piece of equipment starts to tip. The problem is, you can’t get away from the machine fast enough and the machine will most likely end up crushing you at the head, neck, shoulders or chest. So in a tip-over, you want to wear your seat belt, keep your hands and feet in the cab, lean away from the point of impact and ride it out.
Before you get in your vehicle, know your surroundings. Are there steep slopes or unstable ground?
Inspect your seat belts. Look for broken, missing or frayed belts or damaged belt buckles, and report any problems to your supervisor. Do not use the equipment or drive the vehicle until the seat belts are operating properly.
When you put on your seat belt, be sure to wear it properly. Don’t put the strap under your arm or behind your back. Be sure to cinch the belt tight so that it surrounds your torso and fits snugly.
Be sure the equipment is completely turned off, the parking brake is engaged and the equipment is parked on a level, stable surface before you remove your seat belt.
If your company doesn’t have a seat belt policy, talk to a supervisor about setting one. If you make it a point to buckle up every time you get in a vehicle, eventually you won’t even have to think about it. It will be a habit – a habit that could help you avoid serious injury or even death. Remember, it’s up to you to make safe decisions.