Five Construction Tire Best Practices for Safer Sites
Tires are one of the unsung heroes of a construction site—they often travel at high speeds, carry heavy loads, work non-stop, and operate in challenging terrain. By establishing a few simple tire safety best practices, construction business owners and fleet managers can take a significant step toward improving the safety of their operators and equipment.
Five Construction Tire Safety Best Practices
Establishing the construction tire safety best practices listed below at your operation will not only encourage safer construction sites, but can also help boost productivity, reduce downtime, and ultimately increase profitability.
1. Select an Application-Specific Tire
Construction tires are commonly mounted on huge machinery moving massive loads. One of the best steps a construction business owner or fleet manager can take to improve the safety (and productivity) of their equipment is to outfit it with application-specific tires. An application-specific tire is designed to handle the unique challenges presented by particular jobs and certain machines.
The Tire and Rim Association (TRA) has a classification system, followed by all manufacturers, that features a letter to indicate the type of application a tire is intended for use in and a number to specify its tread pattern.
- C: Compactor
- G: Grader
- E: Earthmover
- L: Loader and Dozer
- 1: Ribbed (normal tread depth)
- 2: Traction (normal tread depth)
- 3: Normal (normal tread depth)
- 4: Deep (deep tread)
- 5: Very deep (very deep tread)
- 7: Flotation (normal tread)
2. Operate Tires at the Proper Inflation Pressure
Inflation pressure has an enormous effect on tire performance, life, and safety. Regular monitoring and maintenance of tire inflation can pay huge dividends and mitigate safety concerns.
- An underinflated tire can result in a loss of performance and fuel efficiency. It can also lead to damage to the tire itself and increase the chances of tire failure. OSHA considers any tire run at 80% or less of its recommended operating pressure as being run flat and requires it to be demounted and inspected before being put back into service.
- An overinflated tire does not put a uniform footprint on the ground, which compromises the stability, traction, and handling of equipment, and, in the end, makes it less safe. Overinflation also makes a tire more susceptible to cuts and impact breaks, shortening tire life, increasing downtime, and creating additional expenses.
The more frequently you check the inflation pressure of construction equipment tires, the better. The gold standard is to check tire pressure daily, but even weekly and bi-weekly inflation checks can pump up the productivity and safety of your equipment. The best time to check the inflation pressure of construction tires is at the beginning of the day—or, even better, Monday morning after the machine has sat over the weekend—before starting the machine. The air pressure of a tire increases as it works, which makes it challenging to get an accurate reading.
3. Implement a Tire Maintenance Program
Daily visual inspection of construction tires can help detect problems early before they pose a safety threat to operators and other personnel. Keep wheels and tires clean, remove any rocks and debris from the tread, and inspect the tires for damage such as cuts, tears, cracks, bulges, punctures, abnormal wear and tear, or anything else that could lead a tire to fail. Have a process in place for reporting and assessing damaged tires to maximize safety and minimize downtime.
4. Train Operators to Care for their Tires
It goes without saying that operators play a considerable role in the safety of a construction site. In addition to training operators to adhere to everyday safety protocol, it’s also important that they understand their role in tire performance, longevity, and safety. Ideally, operators will feel a sense of ownership in equipment and use it, and its tires, properly.
Operators should avoid behaviors like making rapid stops and sharp turns that unnecessarily stress or wear tires and endanger others. They should also abstain from traveling at excessive speeds, which generates heat (the number one enemy of tires) and increases the likelihood of an accident. Struck-by accidents—such as being hit by a machine—are one of the four most common construction injuries.
5. Properly Store Tires
It’s recommended that tires are stored for no longer than a few months—preferably inside, in a cool dark place, on a pallet, and away from any dirt or oil. Make sure to keep tires away from equipment that produces ozone, like arc welders and running electric engines. Exposure to ozone can degrade tires and, at its most severe, will render them unserviceable and unsafe. Leave enough area around the tires to make maneuvering around them easy and avoid leaning or stacking them in a manner that is prone to tip over.
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America
Safety is a priority of Yokohama Off-Highway Tires America (YOHTA) and our goal is to see everyone get home free from harm at the end of the day. Our premium Yokohama OTR tires have an application-specific option for nearly every piece of equipment on a construction site and are designed to improve the productivity, efficiency, and safety of your operation. Contact your local YOHTA dealer or rep to learn about tire options for your equipment.