When faced with the dangers of operating heavy equipment on a jobsite, it seems like fastening a seatbelt would be second-nature for equipment operators. And yet, operators often skip the simple step to buckle up – usually as a result of forgetfulness, being hurried, or a preference for comfort. After a fatality involving an unbuckled equipment operator highlighted this issue, Clark’s National Equipment Group took action. Representatives from Clark, Shirley Contracting, Atkinson, and C3M researched possible solutions with equipment manufacturers and trade partners. The group discovered a simple, but effective retrofit.
The Keytroller Slingbelt consists of a retractable half lap belt and a molded urethane hollow belt “sling” that encloses the receiving part of the belt, usually on the left side. This bright orange sling is highly visible and cannot be easily pushed aside by the operator, making it a nuisance if it is not properly buckled. The design also makes it uncomfortable for the driver to sit on the belt instead of properly buckling it into place. Failing to fasten the slingbelt with the equipment in operation results in the emission of a blaring audible signal and visual probe.
To date, all Clark and Atkinson equipment has been retrofitted. Implementing this standard is a critical first step in a cycle of continuous improvement. However, Clark’s National Equipment Group identified an opportunity to do more. Jobsite incidents involving heavy equipment operators reflect an industry-wide risk. By engaging three of the largest equipment rental companies in the country – United, Ahern, and Sunbelt – Clark hopes to encourage manufacturers to retrofit existing heavy machinery with the Keytroller technology.
Extensive policies govern jobsites to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local construction equipment standards. While these guidelines establish an operational framework they cannot eliminate all risks associated with a project. Only employees qualified by training are permitted to operate, inspect, or maintain equipment and machinery. Jobsite inspections by superintendents and safety managers are frequent and offer an additional layer of redundancy to reiterate the importance of buckling up.
As reflected in Clark's core values, championing worker safety remains a top priority.