Heavy equipment may be the kind of toys you played when you were a little kid. But operating these machines isn’t a child’s game. These heavy-duty machines, because its size and complexity to operate, must be handled by a skilled individual who is properly trained and certified.

And that you must understand your duties and responsibilities to make sure everything is smooth running and the work is safely completed. Without knowing these, you may fail at what you need to accomplish and you may not deliver the outcome you should be delivering.

Generally, as a heavy equipment operator, you have these as your roles:

  1. Duties & Responsibilities of Heavy Equipment OperatorThe first and foremost, you’re responsible for the operation of the heavy equipment in accordance with the company’s safety procedures. There is a wide range of equipment that you need to be proficient to operate, depending on the task at hand, you could find yourself behind the wheel of a bulldozer, digging dirt with an excavator, moving or loading materials such as gravel dirt or debris with a loader. While you may also be tasked to drive vehicles such as skid steer, roller, graders, paver, forklift, and other types of machines.

  2. As an operator, you are responsible for maintaining the machine be conducting a daily inspection. If there’s a mechanical problem, you have to report it immediately for immediate repair and corrective action. Without doing this, the equipment could break down in the field halting the work progress not only by you but also of everyone else. The last thing you would not want to happen is having equipment idle in the field.

  3. You must be able to understand and follow instruction from the supervisor. Since work is based on established protocols, as an operator, you must be able to adhere to detailed instructions in oral or written form. Ask appropriate questions for clarification.

  4. You Will Inspect Construction Site or Work Location Prior to Work Commencement. You are responsible for locating various underground utilities and other obstructions on-site that could hamper the smooth operation.

  5. You Should Follow OSHA Guidelines on Heavy Equipment Operation. There are OSHA prevailing rules and regulations in place for heavy equipment operation and forklift operation. To be specific, the 29 CFR 1926.21 Safety and Health Regulation for Construction and the 29 CFR 1910.178 Material Handling and Storage Using of Powered Industrial Truck. If you will work in a hazardous environment, you will be required also to complete HAZWOPER training.

  6. Abide local and state regulations and building codes. If you’re in California just I am, you are required to comply with Cal/OSHA which has a number of regulations regarding with construction safety, these regulations are stated in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations (T8CCR). Other states or cities may also have their own guidelines, you are required to adhere also. While the same would also apply to building codes.


Your Specific Duties Will Depend on the Industry Where You’re Working

  • If you will work in the construction industry, the sector mostly in sought after of qualified heavy equipment operator, you could find yourself maneuvering bulldozers, excavators, and front-end loaders, and other vehicles that have shovels or large plows attached to them. You will prepare the land for construction site by grading the terrain, uprooting trees, and removing large rocks. There’s a lot of work in the construction site that cannot be done manually without the help of construction equipment. The operator may have varied work assignments, from grading soil to leveling asphalt and other materials for paving.

  • In agricultural setup, vehicles such as tractors or harvesters, skilled persons are needed to run them. You could find yourself plowing or harvesting acres of land and the work can be tedious. While heavy equipment operators may have different names in this industry such as farm laborer, irrigation machine operator, tractor driver, or baler operator. The duties and responsibilities of an operator in this industry will depend on the equipment. But generally, an operator’s role is to drive and operate farm equipment to till the soil and to plant, and harvest crops.

  • The mining industry is also one of the sectors in badly need of qualified individuals to operate heavy equipment. There are various positions are available. You could be a drill operator, bulldozer operator, excavator operator, earthmover operator, crushing equipment operator or a dump truck driver. There’s a lot of transporting and hauling work.

The Equipment You Will Be Operating Will Also Determine Your Duties

As an operator, there are four (4) important equipment you should know how to operate, namely, they’re bulldozers, backhoes, graders and front-end loaders.

  • If you’re a bulldozer operator, your primary duty is to clear and level land, push rocks and debris and distribute earth materials to prepare for construction. You must also have an understanding of grades and be able to read technical roadway plans and drawings. Bulldozer operator can be assigned to work anywhere in the country, while the job can be seasonable at times.

  • A backhoe is an essential piece of equipment in the construction project used in the digging of trenches. If you are a backhoe operator, you should have a good experience and a sound understanding of this machine. You should adhere to safety standards and operation safety manual for the machine’s proper use. To make sure completion of the job, the backhoe operator gets instruction from the foreman or site supervisor. A backhoe operator usually works in many types of weather condition, in a hot sunny day or in the rain or snow, so someone who wants to be a backhoe operator must have a good health condition to withstand such weather conditions.

  • The grader operator is responsible for the fine and rough grade finishing to the required specification and evenly spreading the materials such as dirt or gravel to prepare roads or other earthwork structures. The grader operator’s duties are very essential because once their work is finished, the equipment such as rollers and layers then come into the site to finish the road construction.

  • The front-end loaders are equipped with attachment such as hydraulically powered wide-mouth bucket in the front which is used to scoop aggregates and other construction debris or materials for transport to or from the work area. The main duty and responsibility of a front-end loader operator are to drive the vehicle into position to transport materials to dump truck, conveyor belt or in other location of the worksite.


Defining the Role or Job Description of a Heavy Equipment Operator

A job description describes, as it implies, the duties and responsibilities and the qualifications of a heavy equipment operator. With this, you will have a clear understanding of the position. If you are an employer, it is essential to define this for your operators. Having a clear job description helps create an objective for career advancement and create limit regarding the operator’s job responsibilities ensuring that no one crosses other lines.

If you have not defined it yet, glad, we have this prepared for you.

The way to creating an effective job description that resonates to the workers or candidates is to define the complete job details that summarize required skills, qualifications and responsibilities for the position. The summary basically reflects everything you need from a candidate.

By defining a job description, the operators know what to do in the assignment. They know how to do their job and what they specifically need to accomplish to complete the task at hand. Workers onsite work together better and accomplish more when they understand their role or job description.

The contents of a job role or description are the job title, functions, attributes required for the position, required skills, and the compensation of the job.

Defining a job description for heavy equipment operator varies from company to company and from position to position. You, as an employer, must have it in place when hiring workers.

To Wrap a Conclusion

The heavy equipment operator duties and responsibilities are varied. They’re diverse. The duties will depend on the position or type of equipment you’re using and the place or environment you’re working in. When applying for a job as a heavy equipment operator, you need to understand what are the duties and make sure you have them so that can fulfill what the job requires.
We have stated above the 6 most essential duties and responsibilities of a heavy equipment operator that you would not read somewhere else. It is essential to know these items so that you are on the track of your career.


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