Safe Use of Telehandlers in Construction
Posted: Jul 03, 2021
Telehandlers are one of the most utilised pieces of machinery on the construction site thanks largely to their outstanding versatility. As a result of their prolific use and ironically their versatility there is a lot of room for unsafe practice, which has led to some serious accidents and even some fatalities. There are, of course, a great many ways in which employers and telehandler operators can mitigate against the risks of accidents and worse. Not least through appropriate training. There are a wide range of training programmes specifically designed to improve safe telehandler operation, accredited by IPAF and PASMA, while NPORS training and CPCS telehandler training courses specialise in ensuring safe operation of telehandlers.
Making sure telehandler operators are trained appropriately is a vital weapon in the armoury against accidents in the workplace, but it can also be vital for managers to be trained to ensure good planning and picking of equipment. The MEWPs for Managers course is a great place to start.
As mentioned, the picking of appropriate equipment is an art in itself and requires experience and training. An appropriate telehandler should be matched up to the size, type and weight of load as well as the working environment and weather conditions. All attachments should be designed to work with the specific model of telehandler. Bearing all of this in mind will dramatically reduce the risk of accidents associated with the use of this kind of equipment.
In terms of the hazards associated with the operation of telehandlers on construction sites, two of the most significant are lateral stability and visibility. In terms of lateral stability, as loads are lifted the centre of gravity of a telehandler will rise. If the machine starts on level ground this is usually not an issue, but on slopes this must be considered as tipping and overturning can happen. The risk is also enhanced when telehandlers are driven with raised loads and when lifting and travelling with a suspended load as swinging can occur. In terms of visibility, this is reduced when the boom is raised or when large loads are carried. Managers should also be careful to ensure good segregation between those walking around the site and the telehandlers. Aids can be fitted to telehandlers to improve visibility and the operators of these machines should ensure that they are in working condition and of course present. Supervisors and managers should be fully behind this.
The last aspect we will touch upon here is the importance of maintenance and inspection of telehandlers. All machines can suffer from wear and tear and regular checks, inspections and monitoring is vital. It is also imperative that those carrying out the checks are fully trained and capable of noticing when things are not as they should be. The frequency of inspection and maintenance will, in part, depend on intensity of use and the environment in which the machinery is being deployed.
All of these aspects of safe operation must come together to form a cohesive strategy to ensure risks of using telehandlers in construction environments are minimised.
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