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UPDATED GUIDANCE ON EXCAVATORS USED AS CRANES

Plant Forum stresses excavators should not be ‘first choice’ for lifting

The Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group (SFPSG) has released a new ‘refreshed’ guidance document entitled Lifting Operations With 180⁰ and 360⁰ Excavators which updates and expands the 2008 edition.

The SFPSG was formed to produce good practice guidance on plant safety-based topics. Chaired by the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) with members including HSE and significant representation from a range of construction and contracting companies, plant hirers, manufacturers and training organisations.

The Guidance stresses that 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 loads ahead of lifting equipment which is specifically designed for lifting operations e.g. cranes and telehandler.

Precautions and procedures

The new Lifting Operations With 180⁰ and 360⁰ Excavators guide 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 guidance details that the use of excavators introduces a number of additional risks when carrying out lifting operations which are not present with conventional cranes including:

  • Speed – fast articulation and slew movements of the hydraulic services;
  • Operation – the need to operate the boom and dipper arm simultaneously to keep the load vertical when lifting or placing loads;
  • Safety Devices – 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;
  • Capacity – 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; and
  • Planning and Supervision – 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.

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.”

 

 

 

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