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REVERSING TELEHANDLER FATALITY

Inoperative reversing visibility aid leads to site telehandler death

John Graham (Dromore) Ltd of Northern Ireland has been fined £65k following the death of a workman at a County Down construction site in February 2008.

A telehandler reversed over the workman working in the area. The company did not ensure that the driver of a telehandler had an adequate field of vision at the rear.

A visibility aid that was previously fitted was found to be inoperative at the time of the incident.

Louis Burns of HSENI said: “companies need to ensure that operators of mobile equipment should be able to see anyone who is put at risk when any control is operated, including driving in reverse.

Therefore mirrors or more sophisticated visual sensing facilities may be required at the rear of mobile equipment such as telehandlers. In addition companies must ensure that a safe system of work is put into operation and consistently maintained.

Comment: Telehandler and other mobile plant safety is best secured by a three part programme:

(a) Safe Driver: drivers trained in operation of the type of plant or vehicle driven with reasonable checks to verify training and competence 

(b) Safe Plant: incidents usually occur when plant is reversing, slewing or simply going forward so driver visibility is vital. The provision, use and maintenance of safety and warning devices are critical including rollover protection, seat belts, mirrors, CCTV, radar, reversing alarms etc. and

(c) Safe Site: reversing should be avoided where possible, minimised and controlled e.g. by one-way systems and use of a trained banksman. Pedestrians should be separated from movements e.g. at site entrance/exits and during plant slewing and loading.

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