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Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group Publications

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Safety & Health



The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group has published guidance documents on the following:


  • Rescue of Persons from MEWPS
  • Lifting Operations With Excavators
  • Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant
  • Managing the Safe Condition of MEWPs
  • MEWP Safety Alert Protocol

The aim of the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group is to bring about a continuous reduction in the rate of injuries and ill-health caused through the operation and installation of plant in the construction industry.


The Group is led and administered by CPA with the HSE being key participants. Industry organisations that contribute include Build UK, CECA, HBF, CEA, TWF, SAFED, FPS and others, and certification bodies such as CPCS, ALLMI, IPAF and NPORS.


Rescue of Persons from MEWPs


When MEWPs are used there is always an inherent risk of people becoming stranded at height due to a machine malfunctioning, breaking down or other influences. Although measures can be put into place to reduce the risk such as regular maintenance of equipment and the use of competent operators, it is still important that organisations have plans in place should a rescue from a MEWP ever become necessary. 


This publication gives guidance to the organisation that has control of the planning, management and use of the MEWP on-site. Presented in easily digestible sections, it covers factors such as the Health and Safety legislative requirements, responsibility for rescue, means of rescue, the use of the Emergency Services and discusses scenarios such as rescues using another MEWP.





Lifting Operations With Excavators


This good practice guide from the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group was produced due to the prolific use of excavators used for lifting operations in the construction and allied sectors. The guidance thoroughly sets out the precautions and procedures that should be taken into account when planning and carrying out lifting operations with 360-degree tracked and wheeled excavators as well as 180-degree excavators/backhoe loaders.


The precautions and procedures specified in the publication should enable the work to be done safely and in accordance with the requisite legal duties laid out in a seventy-two page document.


A core message that the document conveys is that excavators are primarily designed for excavating and handling loose material rather than lifting suspended loads. Therefore, an excavator should not be the first or only choice for lifting, even if it is already on site, is quicker and maybe more cost-effective than using another, more appropriate, piece of lifting equipment that has specifically designed for lifting operations such as cranes, telehandlers etc. The use of excavators further introduces a number of additional risks when carrying out lifting operations which are not present with a conventional crane.




Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant



The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group (SFPSG) have produced a publication on plant safety entitled ‘Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant - Managing Exposure to Consequential Risks.’


Unintended movement of plant machinery occurs when inadvertent operation of a control such as a switch, lever or pedal occurs, causing unintended machine movement which can potentially cause serious injuries and fatalities. The new publication, which has been developed in conjunction with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), provides guidance on a range of control measures to help prevent this from happening.


The working group for this project identified that in principle, inadvertent operation occurs through:


  • The operator unknowingly activating a control lever
  • The operator intentionally activating a control lever but a different action occurs to what they expected
  • The operator (or other) bypassing or defeating a safety system

In identifying and documenting actions to help manage the exposure to the consequential risks of unintended movement, a number of topics are covered within the guidance including planning, machine selection, training etc. with a large number of case studies of actual incidents have been documented in the guidance and included is an analysis of the causes, consequences and outcomes of each, for which there are often a number of causal factors. This emphasises how incidents have occurred and how they could have been prevented.


Plant manufacturers were represented at the meetings of the working group with an intention that they would subsequently design out potential inadvertent operation and risks during the development of new machines. This latest publication encompasses all plant types including those operated through a remote-control unit, with the exception of MEWPs where a separate publication from the Plant Safety Group on crushing issues has already been produced.



Managing the Safe Condition of MEWPs


This safety guidance outlines the importance of keeping all MEWPs  in safe working condition throughout their working life to ensure continued safe and efficient operation. It identifies three key elements - Inspection, Maintenance and Thorough Examination - and details why each of these elements should be given equal emphasis to ensure optimum safety when operating MEWPs















A Safety Alert Protocol has been developed by the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group (SFPSG) MEWPs Group. The Protocol describes a voluntary standard for Safety Alerts issued by contractors and others who have incidents they believe may be related to the design, manufacture, maintenance or use of MEWPs.


It is intended to guide the author of a Safety Alert so that the alert is seen as authoritative and helpful for those that receive it. A standard format is included for the layout and content of Safety Alerts.










MEWPs and crushing


The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group has produced a Best Practice Guidance for MEWPs - avoiding trapping / crushing injuries to people in the platform.  The guidance is intended to help industry reduce the risk of trapping and crushing injuries to people working in mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), and has been published by CPA on behalf of the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group. 


The guidance has been produced in two parts. Part 1 is aimed at planners, managers, and trainers. It provides information on hazards, risk assessment, controls and responsibilities. 

Part 2 is aimed at those using and supervising MEWPs and responsible for rescuing anyone trapped on a MEWP platform. Part 2 has been designed to be used in briefings or toolbox talks for supervisors and MEWP operators.



Secondary guarding: All MEWPS are safe by design and are fitted as standard with a function enable device which provides primary guarding system; additional equipment or device(s) which can be fitted to a MEWP in order to reduce the risk of overhead crushing injury offer secondary protection and should not replace good practice by management and the operator. “Anti-entrapment” devices do not prevent entrapment – they offer a secondary guarding option to assist management in reducing the risk of serious injury from overhead hazards.


Because of this, the MEWPs group unanimously agreed in December 2013 to change the terminology used for additional equipment or device(s) which can be fitted to a MEWP in order to reduce the risk of overhead crushing injury, from “anti entrapment” to “SECONDARY GUARDING” devices.









Suspended loads                 


 In 2015, the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group published a further revision to the guidance intended to help industry reduce the risk of accident and injury when working with telehandlers. The document – Safe Use of Telehandlers in Construction - was first published in 2011. 


The section dealing with tyre replacement and tyre pressures has been extended, to reflect the importance of tyres on the stability of a telehandler. More emphasis has been added to the guidance on use of seatbelts as an essential safeguard to protect the operator if the machine overturns.


Summaries of "Key Points" for Operators and for Supervisors have been developed based on the Guidance. It is intended that these can adopted and adapted by any company, as the basis for pocket cards, posters or any other relevant format. These summaries are included as appendices. 


Guidance on suspended loads was published in 2014 to give clarification on good industry practice. This guidance is now available for download as a four-page stand-alone document. This guidance is now incorporated in current (2015)  of the main guidance document.








Medical fitness


The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group worked in conjunction with HSE, UKCG, CBH, OH providers and others to draw up guidance aimed specifically at the management of medical fitness issues for persons operating plant.


The Good Practice Guide was published in February 2013. The guidance has now been amended to take account of the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR. Most of the guidance is completely unchanged, but small changes have been made to the guidance on employer's duties for the collection and use of employee's Health Information. 










This project aims to clarify methods for employers to manage, develop and record employees' competences to operate plant. HSE and CITB are key participants, and a wide range of other organisations are involved. The guidance covers management of training and management of experience as well as management of competence. The use of an employee's portfolio of training and experience evidence is also covered.









 Ground Conditions



Failure of the ground on which construction plant stands and moves is a frequent cause of minor incidents and near misses on sites, together with a significant number of serious injuries and fatalities. The new guidance will deal with ground bearing pressures and loadings from mobile plant, and assessment and engineering of the ground’s capability to withstand the loadings.


The guidance addresses coordination of duties, with reference to CDM and to Temporary Works, and contains technical guidance presented in an accessible way. Participating organisations included HSE, the Environment Agency, UKCG, CECA, Temporary Works Forum, specialist contractor organisations, and others.




A four page short form version of the guidance is also available. This is contains the key points concerning ground conditions, and is intended for use by drivers, operators and others who do not require the full depth of detail that is in the main guidance document.








Quick hitches




Because of continued fatalities, serious injuries and near hits involving the unsafe use of quick hitches, the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group published Best Practice Guidance on the Safe Use of Quick Hitches. This also clarifies issues concerning safe use of quick hitches, recognising that employers have their own safe systems of work for the use of quick hitches. It is recommended that all employers use the guidance as a check list to review their own procedures.





















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