Heavy equipment operators use mobile machines and attachments to excavate, grade, and landscape dirt and rock, or move materials and equipment throughout a job site or from site to site. They frequently use heavy equipment to clear and grade land to prepare it for roads, bridges, buildings, and other structures, such as oil rigs. They may also dig trenches to lay or repair pipe, and hoist extremely heavy construction materials. Heavy equipment operators must not only operate the machines, but are also required to inspect and maintain them if they break down.
Some heavy equipment operators work a standard 40 hour week, and positions in the oil and gas industry often involve rotating shifts and overtime. Work environments are frequently noisy, dusty, dirty, remote, and inclement weather is always a possibility. Because of the nature and inherent danger of working with heavy equipment, operators are required to take safety precautions and wear protective gear, including gloves, safety boots, hard hats, glasses, and hearing protection.