Earthmoving equipment tends to get dirty. The machines we cover every day (excavators, skid steers, track loaders, tractors and beyond) are always playing in the mud, venturing into the brush, digging holes, moving aggregate and then sitting outside all night. Compact equipment, in general, should be cleaned on a regular basis to keep it in good running order. For instance, at the end of every workday, compact excavator and track loader operators should take the opportunity to clean out dirt, rock and debris that may buildup in the undercarriage. Shovels and pressure washers are usually used to keep units like this clean.
Cab interiors should be getting the same love each day or week. Policies should be in place to take out unnecessary and personal items and trash each workday. Dirt and dust inevitably enter cabs and workstations, so owners and operators need to vacuum on a regularly basis and clean the glass. Of course, there is a big difference between cleaning vs. sanitizing, as noted in our excellent article on farm equipment cleanliness you can read right here.
With a backdrop of COVID-19, sanitizing has become essential for off-highway construction equipment to help stop the spread of coronavirus. To properly disinfect these areas, you can use soap and water, 70 percent Isopropyl alcohol or non-bleach disinfecting wipes/spray. Make sure to disinfect these areas frequently — we suggest daily or each time an employee finishes using that piece of equipment, allowing another employee to jump in the cab. Wear disposable gloves and a mask when cleaning surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. It’s also a good idea to keep a cleaner mix in a spray bottle that’s inside the cab. Here is a quick list of touch points:
- Steering wheels
- Displays (including touchscreens)
- Grab handles
- Phone wires and plugs
- Door handles
- Compartment latches
- Replace cabin air filters if you suspect they have been exposed or compromised by a sick employee
Here’s how one of the biggest rental companies in America sanitizes its equipment, which is rented and used by multiple operators.
“We use disinfectant on the US-EPA approved list and follow manufacturers’ instructions for cleaning equipment,” says Taylor Abel, director of safety at United Rentals. “At the branch, prior to the equipment being rented, our employees conduct a variety of safety and mechanical checks, now adding disinfecting to the process. In particular, we focus on high-touch surface areas like controls, buttons, latches, knobs, grab handles, operator seats, seat belts and buckles. At the customer worksite, if we are dropping off equipment, our drivers now perform a last touch precautionary disinfecting of the equipment. We use EPA-approved disinfectant and spray or wipe the surfaces touched by the driver when delivering. We have also communicated to our employees on disinfecting equipment, practicing good personal hygiene and social distancing, plus the proper disposal of wipes, towels and any PPE they use in connecting with equipment delivery.”
Serious cleaners should also consider the upholstery. This can be cleaned with the supplies above or even better via a professional steam cleaner that uses hot steam. For even more insights, visit the CDC’s website for more ideas.