Choosing the Right Equipment for Construction Sites

When determining the types of equipment that wil be suitable for construction projects, it can be difficult to sort out with the wide variety of machines available. With so many different models, attachments and specifications, its hard to determine which is the best for your jobsite tasks at hand.

Moreover, with the intense deadlines that come with consruction jobs, contractors of all industries can get so busy they assume the machines they need are already on site and will work just fine. This is not always the case.

construction site equipment choices

If you end up using a machine that is not designed for the workload required, it can be dangerous and cause a great amount of jobsite inefficiency. According to Brad Mellot, production training specialist for JLG: "“If they’ve chosen the wrong machine for the job, the ultimate end result could be injuries or fatalities."

But you can avoid these potential consequences with proper planning and worksite assessments. By selecting the right equipment that will keep the jobsite and the crews productive and safe.

There are questions you need to ask to appropriately evalute which equipment is the right machinery for the tasks at hand.

Selecting a Telehandler vs. Crane

As the years go by, OEMs continue to introduce higher-capacity telehandlers to be used as an alternative to cranes. The reason being is that telehandlers can reduce costs, save time, and provide the versatility to maneuver easily around congested construction projects.

So when can a telehandler serve as an appropriate substitute for a crane?
telehandler for construction

There are 5 main factors to consider, which include:

Weight of the load
Distance to the target landing area
Ground conditions
Site access constraints
Proximity to the public

According to Mellot, "there are serveral ways to determine if the telehandler is in fact capable of placing the load at the destination."

1. One of the first ways doesn't require the machine at all. There is a telehandler load chart that features an X and Y axis for distance from the front tires and the height needed for placement. By using the load chart and a tape measure can help you determine if the machine can safely place the load.

2. A dry-run procedure. According to Mellot, "The dry run procedure is a practice run of the lift or pick being performed but with no load on the forks." On the side of the the boom there are indicators to evaluate if the equipment will be able to safely place the load.

Another consideration that needs to be taken into account is to make sure you have the right attachments, which allows some telehandlers to essential turn in to cranes.

OSHA directive CPL 02-01-057 states, “Any forklift that lifts with a boom (including the boom of the forklift itself) and a hoist would be covered by the requirements of the cranes and derricks standard. For example, a variable reach forklift would also be covered by the cranes standard if it is configured with a hoist and used like a crane.”

This is a very important part as it means that the telehandler will require a certified crane operator while in use.

Selecting a Boom Lift vs. Telehandler with Work Platform

This is another reason why telehandlers are versatile, not only do they have the ability to transform in to a crane, but can also perform like a boom lift when paired with a personnel platform.

So when is this option a possible replacement?

jlg construction site equipment

According to Mellot, contractors must ensure the work platform attachment is OEM-Approved. “All attachments, including the personnel work platform, must be an approved attachment,” he says. “They can't just stand on a pallet on the end of the forks.”

Contractors can check to see if an attachment is approved on the JLG website. “On the JLG website, you can select a specific machine and locate the list of approved attachments for that machine,” Mellott says.

2. The company must take in to account the distance to the work area as well as the terrain conditions and proximity to the public. “Typically the reach on a telehandler is not nearly the reach that a boom lift can offer,” he says.

When telehandlers have personnel work platforms, there are additional safety concerns that you need to be aware of. This is because the operator position in the cab with personnel in the work platform, as opposed to a boom lift where the operator IS the platform.

The operator needs to ensure a line of constant communication and visibility with the personnel in the work platform.

MEWP Selection and Supervisor Training

In June 2020, the ANSI A92 standards for mobile eleveating work platforms (MEWPs), went in to effect. This brought in a vast amount of changes to the overall equipment designs, safe uses and operator training requirements which include boom, vertical and scissor lifts.

construction equipment jobsite

A new requirement in the standards is that supervisors must receive specific training on how to monitor operator performance, provide a jobsite site risk assessment and supervise the work. You can find these training manuals throughout the web or reach out to All Access to discuss.EQUIPMENT TRAINING

Mellott says the Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessment also includes some general guidelines on which type of MEWP to select, such as:

Scissor or vertical lift: When the workers can be positioned directly beneath or beside the task to be performed
Straight boom lift: When the workers need to reach a target that is in a straight line from the ground in order to perform their task (scissor lift with an extension deck may also be an option)
Articulated boom lift: When the worker needs up-and-over reach, typically around an elevated obstacle, to access the task

Among the other factors that contractors should weigh are whether the machine has adequate height and reach for the scope of work and if it has the appropriate tires for the terrain, Mellott says.

“We all have seen pictures online of people doing things that they're obviously not supposed to do with the machine that they had,” he says. “Many times these unsafe acts are a direct result of selecting the wrong piece of equipment for the job. Performing a proper analysis when selecting the appropriate machine is a great control measure to mitigate risks.”

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