Health & Safety-Related Alerts

Plant-related Safety Alerts received from bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or from construction employers, plant-hire organisations or from manufacturers can be downloaded from this page.

Quick Hitch Detachment

In February 2019, a 13-tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch was breaking out ground. The breaker detached unintentionally from the quick hitch and landed on a worker in the vicinity, landing on their foot, which resulted in their right leg needed to be amputated below knee level. The HSE investigation found that the employer had not set up an exclusion zone in the working area and that there were no marshallers present to ensure the excavator was isolated before others could enter the work zone. There was also no dedicated attachment changing area. The company was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £1,935.84 in costs.

The HSE commented that “This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.” Despite improved equipment and methods of working, unintentional detachment of equipment using quick-hitch couplers still occur.

The Construction Industry Plant Safety Group have produced a good guidance practice for the safe use of quick hitches on excavators and a good practice guidance on reducing unintentional movement of plant, which outlines the need for exclusion zones and appropriate control measures. Both publications can be downloaded free of charge from the Construction Industry Plant Safety Group publications page in the Publications section of this website.

Crawler Crane Overturns

There have been a number of recent instability issues with telescopic boom-type crawler cranes, with the principle cause of each of the incidents being that the tracks were in the retracted/transport position whilst a slewing activity took place. The failure mode of each incident being that the crane became unstable as there was either insufficient extension or that the boom was elevated, failing to counteract the overturning moment of the counterweights when slewed out of line with the chassis.

Although the HSE has advised that these incidents are not classed as a dangerous occurrence, nevertheless they warrant attention and action to avoid future occurrence. Therefore a safety alert from a manufacturer has been issued to raise awareness and how it can be avoided. Good practice would be that, once in the transport configuration, the crane should not be slewed away from the in-line-with-the-track position. Ideally it should be slew locked ready for manoeuvring or loading onto transport.

Although the cranes affected were from a number of manufacturers, the principle applies to any boom-type crawlers where the counterweights are not removed for transport and the electronic control systems do not recognise the unsafe actions of the operator and the consequent unsafe configuration of the crane. The manufacturing standards have been met as there is no requirement for identification / automatic prevention of this condition being reached. The safety alert should therefore be generalised as a potential issue with any crane of this type and the recommendations in the Sennebogen document should be applicable to all manufacturers of telescopic crawler cranes.

The Sennebogen-issued safety alert can be downloaded below.

Crushing of mechanic due to falling cab

A mechanic had raised a tilting cab to access the engine area. The configuration of the mast prevented the cab from being safely latched. A leak in the lifting ram caused the cab to lower inadvertantly, trapping and crushing the mechanic who died from their injuries. The Cadent-issued safety bulletin provides a number of key learning points and actions that should be taken to mitigate future incidents.

CPA Site Operating Procedures for Plant Occupations

Following the introduction of the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Site Operating Procedures (SOP) and the Scottish Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV) Site Operating Guidance (SOG) on protecting the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic, the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) and Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) wrote a supplementary guidance publication for plant occupations.

The publication interprets the core requirements of the industry-based procedures and outlines a tailored set of additional requirements for a range of plant-based occupations. These include plant operators, supporting personnel such as slinger/signallers, traffic marshals etc. maintenance staff and plant delivery drivers.

Version 5 of the CPA/SPOA SOP plant occupations publication has been revised following the release of the sector-specific guidance on working safely during coronavirus in January 2021. The plant SOP consists of 5 pages with a number of topics such as preparation, operating, direct support activities, communications and maintenance activities. The additions or amendments to SOP version 5 are chiefly to updated links.