Heavy equipment operators operate heavy equipment used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, airports and utilities, and the construction of gas and oil pipelines, tunnels, buildings and other structures. They also operate equipment in surface mining, quarrying, and land clearing activities.
Heavy equipment operators are employed by construction companies, heavy equipment contractors, public works departments and pipeline, logging, mining, oil, cargo-handling and other industries.
They operate heavy equipment such as articulated haul trucks, tractor-loader-backhoes (TLB), excavators, dozers, loaders and graders to excavate, move, load and grade earth, rock, gravel or other materials during construction and related activities. They operate dozers, excavators, skidders or other heavy equipment to clear brush and stumps prior to logging activities and to build roads at logging and surface mining sites. They use heavy equipment to maintain winter roads and to move, load and unload cargo. Heavy equipment operators are also responsible for preparing their equipment for transportation, doing a safety check on their equipment before every job and for cleaning, oiling and refilling their equipment.
Noise from machinery and equipment hinders communication at the work site. Often hand signals and flags are the only practical forms of communication. Distance between workers, the need to wear ear protection and the presence of dust and blind spots blocking eye contact with other workers also make communication difficult.
Key attributes for people entering this trade are good eye-hand coordination, mechanical aptitude, alertness and safety consciousness. Heavy equipment operators sit in vehicles for extended periods of time. Adjusting equipment or co-ordinating activities with other workers may require some walking, lifting and bending.