How to safely operate a compaction rammer

Vibratory plate compactor compacting sand at road construction site.
The high impact force of a compaction rammer can cause serious injuries.

Compaction rammers are generally used on building sites, to compact soil before building materials are placed on top. The rammer is managed by the construction worker and powered by a diesel or gas engine; it can deliver up to 750 blows per minute and usually travels forward when in use. Due to the force these pieces of equipment deliver, they can be extremely dangerous to use and operators should be fully trained before using them independently.

Safe operation of a compaction rammer

When using a compaction rammer, the high impact force can cause serious injuries, even fatality for inexperienced operators. All workers using compaction rammers should have hands-on training and know how to use all the controls. It’s vital that the correct type of compactor is used for the soil type in question. The following steps should be followed in order to ensure safe operation of a compaction rammer:

  • Work up and down slopes rather than across them
  • Only use the equipment on stable ground
  • Inspect before and after each use to make sure it is in good working order
  • Machines should be allowed to cool before fuelling or adjustment
  • Don’t use a compaction rammer indoors or in a confined space as they emit carbon monoxide
  • Guards should be maintained on all moving parts to avoid crush injuries
  • Using a rammer for long periods of time can cause Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) – you should wear anti-vibration gloves and follow guidance for maximum usage times
  • Use specialist equipment when moving or lifting a rammer as they are very heavy
  • PPE should always be worn – safety boots, glasses and a face shield as well as ear muffs or plugs to protect your ears from the loud noise created by the rammer

It’s vital that those operating compaction rammers are fully trained and familiar with the equipment – a change of equipment may require refresher training and if you are not fully confident using equipment, speak to your manager to ensure you receive the proper training and are shown how to use new compaction rammers.

Accidents at work involving compaction rammers

Due to the high impact force they deliver, compaction rammers can cause serious injuries. Poorly maintained equipment or equipment with guards removed could lead to an injury for the user, but others working on site could also be injured if the operator is not properly trained. If you are injured at work whilst using a compaction rammer, you could be eligible to claim for compensation, so call Accident Advice Helpline today for no-obligation, confidential advice.


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