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Safety probe after tele and platform fatalities

PLANT - HSE warns contractors following 'pattern' of deaths involving crushing injuries

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive has issued a warning to contractors after investigating the deaths of six people killed in accidents involving telehandlers and access platforms over the past three years.

The HSE said people working with access platforms must take care to prevent inadvertent operation of controls. It also voiced concerns over the visibility of telehandlers after three pedestrians died in separate accidents after being struck.

Geoff Cox, the HSE's head of operations for Yorkshire and the north-east said: 'It is important to get a sense of proportion.

These machines are intrinsically safe, but we are asking people to be aware of the dangers and consider setting up training programmes based on our findings.

Practical steps should solve most of these problems.' For powered access, the HSE recommended that contractors assess the risk of crushing by determining whether there are overhead obstructions and whether there is a system either of preventing the operator from inadvertently operating controls, or of releasing themselves, if pressed against them. Mr Cox said that contractors should ensure that their operators were fully trained to operate the machines from the basket, but that those on the ground also knew how to bring the platform down.

With regards to telehandlers, the HSE is concerned that pedestrians should be out of the vicinity of vehicle movements, including visitors to site as well as site workers, with transport routes planned to eliminate reversing where possible.

Mr Cox added: 'Contractors must ask themselves two important questions: Have they chosen the right type and size of plant to work on the site?

'And do they know what the driver can and cannot see while operating it?' The executive suggested a series of interim measures that can be taken, depending on the site, including changing traffic routes and delivery and loading points and providing additional visibility aids such as mirrors and cctv.

The Health and Safety Executive is working with manufacturers of both platforms and telehandlers to see whether there are possibilities for design improvements that would reduce the risk still further.