Summer heat records are being broken across the country this year, which means it’s more important than ever to take steps to prevent heat illness in your crew. Make sure you read these essential heat safety tips from Paul Watkins, a Texan Golf Course Superintendent who’s well-versed in battling sweltering humidity and 100°+ conditions at
The utility vehicles used at your golf course maintenance facility might not even drive on highways or public roads, but they are required to follow certain regulations as set forth by OSHA.
These vehicles may be easier to use than a regular car, yet their ease of use is what leads to so many injuries and accidents. Your crew might overlook the importance of following proper safety procedures, yet the improper use of these vehicles could lead to serious injuries or even death.
General Utility Vehicle Safety Requirements
In order to prevent accidents, be in compliance with OSHA and maintain your vehicles in good condition, be sure to follow OSHA’s general requirements for utility vehicles.
All vehicles must have:
- Service brake system
- Emergency brake system
- Parking brake system
- Brake lights
Given your crew often drives vehicles before sunrise, all vehicles must have at least two headlights and taillights that work, and all vehicles should also have working brake lights. All of the systems above must be kept in operable condition.
Inspecting Utility Vehicles
OSHA requires that every vehicle must be checked at the beginning of each shift to ensure that all necessary parts and systems are working. Every inspection should cover:
- Service brakes
- Trailer break connections
- Parking systems
- Coupling devices
- Operating controls
The following must be checked if vehicle use requires it:
- Windshield wipers
- Fire Extinguishers
- Any other tools required for safe operation
There are a few additional requirements that apply to hauling equipment. If the equipment’s load is loaded with a crane, loader or similar, the vehicle should have a means of protecting the operator from shifting or falling materials. This could come in the form of a cab shield or canopy. If equipment or load is being hauled in the same compartment as your crew, it needs to be secured to prevent movement during transportation.
To transport other passengers, the vehicle must have enough seats, and the seats should be firmly secured. If the vehicle has seat belts, they must be used. Of course, the only place where a passenger may ride is on a seat.
Utility Vehicle Use Training
It’s very important that anyone in your crew who will be using the vehicles is trained to drive each vehicle, to inspect it, to recognize safety symbols and alerts, to charge or fuel the equipment, as well as any hazards present at each job site. They should also be trained to follow the following usage guidelines. Usage Guidelines:
- Don’t start the vehicle in an enclosed area
- Make sure that area is clear before starting the vehicle
- Keep your eyes on the direction you’re traveling towards
- Maintain a safe distance from bystanders
- Slow down before turning
- Drive straight up hills
- Avoid steep slopes and unsafe terrains
- Drive slowly
- Engage the break and come to complete stops
- Engage parking brake when parking
- Be extra cautious when driving in reverse
- Never drive vehicles during inclement weather
- Never operate utility vehicles if you are under the influence of mind-altering substances
- Store vehicles in designated areas
- Follow all driving regulations on public roads.
Guidelines for carrying cargo:
- Check vehicle’s maximum load capacity
- The combined weight of the driver, passenger, cargo and gross trailer weight should not exceed capacity.
- Consult operator’s manual for your particular vehicle
- Engage parking brake before loading cargo
- Avoid placing top heavy items
- Make sure cargo is secured
- Never place loads on the tailgate
- Make sure the tailgate is engaged and latched before moving the vehicle
- Use proper lifting techniques
- Drive slowly
- Avoid sudden movements
- Avoid driving up inclines
- Operating utility vehicles and golf carts
- Always check the vehicle operator’s manual for specific instructions
Keep in mind that your crew needs to be trained and retrained periodically, and any new hires should be trained before they are given access to drive any vehicles.
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