Hire Association Europe (HAE) has joined forces with Travis Perkins and other industry partners to set up a working group aimed at improving the safety of digger and dumper operations on construction sites.
Investigations by Travis Perkins suggested that the risks posed by diggers and dumpers to users and others were a serious industry-wide issue. A tragic accident involving a dumper in 2018 proved the catalyst for the initiative to form the Digger and Dumper Operational Safety Round Table.
Overseen by HAE, the Association’s members under the umbrella of the Safety Round Table will focus on improving the recording of incidents, reviewing standards, engaging with manufacturers and making the sector aware of potential issues.
Latest figures reveal that there is at least one accident involving a digger or dumper each week on sites in the UK, with the majority caused by unstable ground or unsafe working – an industry challenge that must be met head on by all stakeholders if the frequency of incidents is to be reduced, according to Frank Elkins, Chief Operating Officer at Travis Perkins.
HAE Technical Health & Safety Group will be responsible for assessing the information gathered from members in an established, systematic format that will enable the industry to respond to trends, review frequency, determine the root causes and relevant factors that contribute to incidents involving diggers and dumpers. It is anticipated that examining and interpreting this data will help the new working group improve safety for those operating diggers and dumpers by suggesting minimum safety standards that all businesses can support, through more awareness, education and training.
The working group also plans regular and meaningful dialogue with manufacturers to get them on board, such as incorporating agreed safety features, which will be key to ensuring that hire suppliers and customers are on the same wavelength when it comes to future equipment design.
Explaining the initiative, Frank Elkins said: “Hire companies sharing best practices and initiatives amongst each other can lead to a best in class site hand over to ensure operational risks are minimised.
“Key plant manufacturers coming together and agreeing improvement in standards of the safety equipment and devices on these machines could lead to a significant reduction in these types of incidents. There would obviously be a cost to these improvements which the hire industry should be willing to bear.”
Paul Gaze, HAE Commercial Manager, added: “By working together to gather reliable data we can agree a framework, including training and education, that will further improve safety standards by ensuring that operators are fully competent handling this machinery and are aware of the risks associated with their actions.
“We are looking for interested parties to volunteer to join the group and also meet up either face-to-face or using technology. Please do get in touch if you’d like to contribute.”