The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group (SFPSG) has released a new refreshed plant safety guidance document entitled ‘Lifting Operations With 180⁰ and 360⁰ Excavators.’
Taking into account the prolific use of excavators for lifting operations in the construction and allied sectors, the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group has revised, expanded and updated the group’s original guidance publication which was first introduced in 2008. Additions to the original document are so widespread that the guidance has increased from seven pages to 72 pages.
The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group was formed to produce good practice guidance on plant safety-based topics. Chaired by the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), the SFPSG also has membership for this project from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), as well as significant representation from a range of construction and contracting companies, plant hirers, manufacturers and training organisations. This latest guidance adds to a number of Plant Safety Group publications on various topics, produced through subject-specific meetings by those from industry holding the relevant expertise.
The new ‘Lifting Operations With 180⁰ and 360⁰ Excavators’ Good Practice Guide thoroughly sets out the precautions and procedures that should be taken into account when planning and carrying out lifting operations with 360⁰ tracked and wheeled excavators as well as 180⁰ excavators/backhoe loaders. The precautions and procedures specified in the publication should enable work to be carried out safely and in accordance with the law.
A core message within the guidance is that in terms of selection of lifting equipment, excavators are primarily designed for excavating and handling loose material rather than lifting suspended loads. The document advocates that 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 and telehandlers.
The guidance details that the use of excavators further introduces a number of additional risks when carrying out lifting operations which are not present with conventional cranes, such as:
- Fast articulation and slew movements of the hydraulic services;
- The need to operate the boom and dipper arm simultaneously to keep the load vertical when lifting or placing loads;
- Standard excavator rated capacity warning devices generally only warn, do not prevent the handling of loads in excess of the rated capacity and can be muted by the machine operator;
- That rated capacity varies if lifting over the front and rear or side-on to the machine and if features such as blades, stabilisers and axle locks are engaged or not;
- That some appointed persons need may not have the experience of planning and supervising lifting operations with excavators.
Topics covered within the guidance include planning and supervision requirements, machine selection, roles and responsibilities, specific issues and maintenance and inspections. A key part of the guidance is a flowchart that introduces a hierarchy and sequence to the planning process. The section on specific issues includes information on the factors that affect topics such as stability, ground conditions, specific issues when using 180⁰ excavators, the use of fork attachments and the effects of tilt-rotators during lifting operations.
A number of case studies have been incorporated within an annex which identifies how the changing environmental and load complexity determines the classification of a lifting activity as a basic, intermediate or complex operation. As with all CPA Plant Safety Group publications, the Good Practice Guide for Lifting Operations With 180⁰ and 360⁰ Excavators can be downloaded free of charge from www.cpa.uk.net/sfpsgpublications
Chair of the Plant Safety Group, Kevin Minton, Director of the CPA said: “As lifting using excavators has become much more prolific and in many cases, excavators are only lifting equipment on site, it was time for us to update and expand the guidance, highlighting and emphasising that lifting suspended loads with excavators is no different to the management and execution of the lifting of loads using a traditional crane.
“The increased guidance means that lift planners now need to think carefully about just using an excavator for the lifting operations on their site even though it may be convenient. I thank the Plant Safety Group for undertaking and completing this work and ask all those planning and executing lifting operations with excavators to follow the advice given within the guidance,” he continued.