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Excavator Operator Accuracy And Safety Refresher Tips

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With a hydraulic excavator, tasks like trench digging are made easier. However, this doesn't necessarily mean you can breeze through the task, as doing so will most often result in a mistake. For novice and experienced users alike, a failure to properly plan can result in a number of mistakes. A quick refresher on some trench digging prep can help you avoid mistakes and ensure accuracy.

Offset Marks

Preparation is one of the most important safety tools you have in your arsenal. The first thing to ensure is that you have offset marks in place. As basic as it sounds, a number of people overlook the importance of this step. Offset marks can come in the form of a string line or a chalk line or any other marking that will be clearly visible inside the cab of the excavator.

While this might seem like an extra and unnecessary step, in the end, failing to perform this step will only result in you adding work on yourself. Without this type of marking, it will be extremely difficult to dig a straight line, meaning you will have to go back and make corrections, only adding to your workload.


Creating offset markings is only the start. It's also important to align the excavator, both the front and the back, along these markings, each time you start to dig again. Performing this step helps ensure that you will be tracking straight as you move forward. Taking time to align the excavator also helps ensure that it is level.

You cannot dig an even trench if the excavator is not level. Even a slight height adjustment on the part of the excavator can significantly alter the dimensions of a trench. Make sure you are removing or packing any dirt, sand or other earth under the excavator to help create a level surface.

Soil Examination

It's safe to say that some of the injuries related to trench excavation have to do with cave-ins. Different soil types require different positioning of the excavator to ensure that its weight is properly supported. If the weight isn't supported, the soil can cave-in and injure the operator as well as anyone who is working inside the ditch.

Machines whose counterweight reaches far beyond the tracks on its base are especially at risk for this type of scenario. Don't operate until you have examined the soil to ensure proper weight support placement.

Whether you are new to excavating or experienced, tight schedules and increased workloads can make it fairly easy to overlook proper planning. However, in the long run, overlooking these steps only decreases accuracy and efficiency. For more information about proper excavator use, contact a company like Scott Equipment.