Safety First – Five Tips for Rental Operators

By Stacy Long, Ditch Witch Product Safety Engineer

Like rental centers, rental operators demand reliable equipment to improve ROI. Time is money, and in order to make the most of their time, productivity is key.

The productive use of rental equipment, such as walk-behind trenchers and mini skid steers, depends on consistent, effective operation. Before the tire or track meets the soil, rental operators need to make sure they won’t encounter a problem due to improper operation. The following five guidelines will help rental operators get the most out of their rental equipment:

  1. Read the Operator’s Manual. Loaded with important safety and practical machine-operation information, this booklet will become every operator’s trusty sidekick on the job and in the shop. Even operators with years of experience will benefit from the quick access to an abundance of operation and maintenance reminders. 
  2. Understand Equipment Operation. Spending time on the machine before beginning work will familiarize an operator with how the controls actually work and respond. But, how much practice is enough? As a best practice, operators should feel comfortable on each machine before diving head first into operation – this time will vary from operator to operator. 
  3. Call 811. Whether operators are plotting new landscape or installing utility lines, they need to know what’s beneath the ground. And calling 811 is the first step to knowing what’s below. Additionally, attention to colored markers, such as paint and flags, showing the approximate locations of utility lines can help reduce injuries, fines and other jobsite risks.
  4. Use Equipment Carefully. Equipment only remains productive when it’s in good working condition. Rental equipment should be inspected before the start of each day on a job to make sure it is working properly. If something doesn’t look or feel right, have the rental store make the necessary repairs before beginning work. The Ditch Witch organization has a checklist for inspecting equipment
  5. Think Personal Protection. When operating equipment, expect the unexpected. Always be prepared by wearing appropriate protective gear, such as safety glasses, earplugs, a hard hat, gloves and steel-toe shoes.

For a full list of safety guidelines and a collection of checklists, videos and expertise focused on equipment operation, visit

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