Excavator operators should leave their cab to check the coupling each time they change attachment - even if using the latest generation of automatic couplers, according to the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group's re-drafted 'Ten steps that contractors, plant owners and other duty holders should be taking now.'
The group does not differentiate between manual, semi-automatic or fully automatics couplers as it said all types can be safely used by competent people within a safe system of work and all types may fail if they are not used and maintained correctly.
However, its first and strongest recommendation is to keep workers away from the machine's working range and people should never work beneath a bucket or attachment.ADVERTISEMENT
The group also took the opportunity to restated that the HSE has not banned existing semi-automatic couplers and the revised European Standard EN474 (due in 2010) will not directly affect quick hitches while the forthcoming European and International standards have not yet been drafted.
Other recommendations remain unchanged and include ensuring operators are trained on the type of hitch they are using and are aware of their legal responsibilities. It also highlights the important part played by site supervisors in ensuring all safety procedures are followed and disciplining any transgressors.
The group will publish best practice guidance early next year.
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