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Too many operators are not sufficiently aware of the dangers of side slopes.

Tackling telehandler safety

The Executive Hire Show was the chosen venue for the official launch of a Best Practice Guide to the safe use of telescopic handlers in construction. Nick Johnson was in attendance.

As telescopic handlers have become ever more versatile and diverse in size, they are being offered by an increasing number of hire companies. However, if supplied or used incorrectly, even the smallest telehandler can be involved in a serious, possibly fatal, accident on site.

In a positive move to try to stem the tide of serious accidents - which include some horrific machine overturns and the crushing of site workers - a new Best Practice Guide for these machines has been published. This 86-page publication has been produced by the Strategic Forum for Construction, through its Plant Safety Group. In the foreword to the Guide, HSE (Health & Safety Executive) Chief Inspector of Construction, Philip White, personally commends the guidance to anyone involved with telehandlers. He urges that the contents are turned into action.

Prepared by a specially selected working party, including knowledgeable representatives of machine makers, hire companies and end users, the publication provides sound advice on telehandler planning, equipment choice and safe use, together with the selection and training of personnel. It also details the legal requirements for machine maintenance, inspection and thorough examination.

new telehandlers in Europe. The Guide emphasises that these devices only sense forward stability, not rearward or lateral stability. It is essential that operators understand this limitation.

Another important message is the need to only operate machines with the correct, properly inflated tyres on all wheels. Stability can be adversely affected if tyres with the wrong ply rating are used, or if there are tyres with different diameters on the same axle.

Need for familiarisation

An important section of the Guide covers the need for operators and supervisors to be given adequate familiarisation on an unfamiliar type of telehandler and/or attachments before they begin operations. This is very important, given that different manufacturers continue to produce machines with different control layouts.

Any hirer that offers telehandlers should read the new Guide.

The lifting and movement of suspended loads is another topic covered in detail and it is

emphasised that only a properly designed, fitted and tested attachment should be used to carry a suspended load. It is clearly stated that such loads should never be attached to chains or slings over the forks or carriage.

Many accidents occur when operators move machines with a load at height, or if they attempt to move a load on a side slope. With the aid of clear diagrams, the Guide graphically shows how stability decreases as the mass of the boom and its load is raised - particularly on a side slope.

Stationary for ‘normal lifts’

The Guide clearly states that a telehandler should only lift vertically - either by being on level ground or by using frame levelling, if fitted. The machine should be stationary, with the brake applied, for all ‘normal lifts’ and it should only be used by a trained, certificated and competent operator. Coverage is given to load moment indicators, including the latest longitudinal load moment control devices fitted to

When it comes to lifting people in a platform carried by a telehandler, the Guide is quite specific that only an integrated platform, with controls in the cage, should be used. Readers are left in no doubt that non-integrated platform attachments must not be used for planned tasks on construction sites.

The CPA (Construction Plant-hire Association) was involved in the preparation of the new Guide, which is now available as a free download directly from its website. Sensibly, it is planned that pocket cards, containing a summary of the most important points, will be produced for distribution to telehandler operators and supervisors in the near future.

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