Heavy equipment is an integral part of the construction industry. Most modern equipment is designed to be user-friendly and easy to operate. You can put nearly anyone behind the wheel and they can figure out its basic functions, but they probably won’t be able to operate it efficiently or safely. What are the benefits of investing in equipment operator training?
Improved Workplace Safety
The first time you got behind the wheel of a car, how did you feel? If you’re like the majority of us, you were equal parts excited and apprehensive. Driver’s education might have covered the basics, but there’s a big difference between reading the instructions and actually controlling the vehicle.
One of the most obvious benefits of investing in equipment operator training is improved job site safety. Anyone with opposable thumbs can operate most heavy construction equipment, but it is crucial to make sure employees are able to operate it both safely and efficiently. Control of inch points and hazardous motions are just two of the skills needed to prevent workplace accidents.
Investing in operator training improves overall workplace safety by preventing unskilled operators from trying to control heavy equipment. It also teaches your operators how to respond in the event of an emergency.
Longer Equipment Lifespan
The longer you run an engine at full speed, the faster it’s going to burn out. Equipment failure is expensive. Not only are you on the hook for repairs, but downtime and missed deadlines can be just as costly.
Operator training gives your crew the skills to know how to get the most out of their equipment — and that doesn't always mean running it at 100% all the time.
Training is no replacement for regular maintenance and inspections, but it can reduce overall downtime and keep your equipment running more smoothly.
Lower Fuel Consumption
Fuel costs tend to climb with unskilled operators at the controls of construction equipment.
Without training and experience, operators tend to run their equipment at the highest possible setting whether it’s actually necessary or not. Training gives your crew the confidence and knowledge to manipulate the controls and work at lower RPMs or speeds when all that extra power isn’t necessary. It also gives operators the experience to identify fuel pressure issues and maintenance needs that can lead to costly losses if left unchecked.
Investing in skilled operators helps construction companies keep ongoing costs low. Without trusted professionals at the helm, heavy equipment is more likely to break down or consume unnecessary fuel.
Less Idle Time
Idle time is something that no one wants to see in the construction industry. Not only does wasting time cost money, but it can also decrease the resale value and increase the maintenance costs of your equipment. Utilizing trained operators helps to reduce this idle time while making the most of an employee’s work hours.
Wasted time becomes expensive after a while, especially if you’re close to a deadline. Monitor the idle time of your equipment when using an unskilled operator and compare it to a trained one. You might be surprised by the difference.
When you make a mistake on a piece of paper, you erase it or slap a little white-out on it and call it a day. When you make a mistake on a construction site, even a small one, it can end up costing thousands of dollars. If it’s severe enough, it could even put you at risk of missing your deadlines.
Simply put, while training your operators won’t eliminate all on-the-job mistakes, it can reduce their frequency significantly. When you consider how much money operator training could save in the long run, it becomes worth the expense.
Invest in Operator Training
If you haven’t invested in operator training for heavy equipment, or are just relying on on-the-job experience, you’re missing out on a lot of the benefits.
This type of training isn’t necessarily cheap, but in return, you’re creating one of the most skilled and knowledgeable crews in the industry. You’ll reduce idle time, improve productivity and safety, and even make your equipment last longer by reducing everyday wear and tear.
Do some research and see what sorts of operator training might be available in your area. Whether you’ve got one backhoe or a fleet of heavy machinery, this training is easily worth every penny you’ll spend and more.
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, where she covers construction labor and safety advice for industry professionals. Readers can keep up with Evelyn’s work on Twitter.