The Duties & Responsibilities of a Machine Operator

Machine operator duties vary according to job and work site.
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Machine operators work in many environments, including construction sites, manufacturing facilities and warehouses. They operate machines to move material, build structures and fabricate products. Material-handling machine operators transport goods as needed at work sites. Construction equipment machine operators use heavy machinery for completing construction projects. Manufacturing machine operators use machines to cut and shape different materials into parts and products. Duties and responsibilities of an operator depend on the work environment and necessary machines.

Material Handling

    Material handlers usually operate forklifts, conveyors, tractors, cranes, derricks, front-end loaders, hydraulic booms and excavators to move materials. Typical duties and responsibilities include setting up and inspecting equipment, controlling equipment to get the job done safely and keeping track of material moved. There are also work-site-specific duties. For example, forklift or tractor operators tend to move material too big or heavy to move by hand. Backhoe or bulldozer operators dig up and move soil and other items at construction sites.


    Some machine operators at construction sites use equipment to move rocks, debris and other material to clear and grade land to prepare for construction of roads, buildings and other structures. Others operate machines to compact the earth or pave and level asphalt. Because certain utilities are needed at construction sites, some machine operators run air compressors and generators. Specific duties and responsibilities depend on the construction site and equipment needed for the job. Whatever the job, these operators must work with other construction crew members to coordinate movement activities.


    Many retail products you buy that are made of metal and plastic are possible because of machine operators. Machine operators in a manufacturing environment set up and operate equipment according to production schedules. The type of machines used include computer numerical control machines, lathes, power presses, grinders, welders, and molding and casting machines. These operators set up and prepare the machines for production runs, make adjustments and changeovers, feed raw material into the machines, remove finished product and program computer-controlled machines. These machine operators also test and measure completed parts and record production data.


    Avoiding injury to yourself and others is a major responsibility for machine operators. Before using equipment, operators need training -- either from the equipment manufacturer or another qualified expert. Machine operators must receive training on safe operating procedures and applicable safety rules. Safety responsibilities include using proper machine guards and knowing the location of control switches, power buttons and emergency stops. An operator is also responsible for inspecting machines before use and using required personal protective equipment.

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