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    GUIDANCE ON UNINTENDED MOVEMENT OF PLANT

    CPA aim to reduce inadvertent operation of plant controls

    The construction industry Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group produces “good practice guidance” on plant safety-based subjects and is managed and chaired by the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) on behalf of the construction and allied sectors.

    The plant safety group have published guidance on various topics, produced through subject-specific meetings by those from industry holding the relevant expertise.

    The latest project concerns Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant – Managing exposure to consequential risks, where inadvertent operation of a control such as a switch, lever, pedal etc. has caused unintended machine movement resulting in fatal or serious injuries.

    Greater awareness and guidance needed

    A 2014 HSE-commissioned report on inadvertent operation of controls with excavators recommended that users of plant needed to be made more aware of the risks and the available control measures to mitigate consequential risks.

    The CPA hosted an industry meeting in April 2015 to discuss the topic, and all present agreed that draft guidance needed to be produced.

    A task-specific working group was formed consisting of a range of employers representing Tier 1 contractors and SMEs, and further included trade bodies, manufacturers, training organisations and HSE.

    The group identified that in principle inadvertent operation involves either:

    • Unknowing – the operator unknowingly activating a control lever;
    • Unexpected – intentionally activating a control lever but a different action occurs to what they expected; or
    • Undermining – where safety systems are bypassed or defeated.

    A large number of case studies have been documented providing analysis on the causes, consequences and outcomes. In many cases there are a number of causal factors.

    Designing out potential triggers

    Manufacturers of plant form part of the working group with the aim of ultimately ‘designing out’ potential inadvertent operation during plant development. The guidance encompasses all plant types including those operated through a remote-control unit (except MEWPs covered by a separate Plant Safety Group publication). The draft guidance covers:

    • Planning of the task and the selection of plant;
    • Attributes of personnel, supervision and training requirements;
    • Control of the working zones and those within the area;
    • Communication;
    • Types of operating controls and means of isolation;
    • Selection and fitting of additional control measures, inc. clothing specifications;
    • Checks, inspections and maintenance requirements.

    The working group consider that the draft guidance is now ready for public consultation so that those within industry have a chance to comment on the content prior to formal release.  The working group welcomes feedback on the document from a wider audience and the public consultation period will close on 16 December 2016.

    It is envisaged that the final version will be available in early 2017 and a condensed, summarised version will subsequently be produced for easy reference.

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