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Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant

Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant

Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group draft document now ready for public consultation 

THE Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group was formed to produce 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 Group’s latest project – Reducing Unintended Movement of Plant – is about 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, in several cases, serious injuries or fatalities.

In 2014, the publication of an HSE-commissioned report on inadvertent operation of excavator controls supported the notion that users of plant needed to be made aware of the risks and what control measures should be taken to mitigate consequential risks.

The CPA hosted an industry meeting in April 2015 to discuss the topic, where all present agreed that guidance needed to be produced. As a result, a task-specific working group was formed consisting of a range of employers representing Tier 1 contractors and SMEs, as well as trade bodies, manufacturers, training organizations and the HSE.

Work on the guidance commenced in June 2015 to identify and document the causes and suitable control measures. The group found that, in principle, inadvertent operation occurs through the operator unknowingly activating a control lever, intentionally activating a control lever but a with different action occurring to what was expected, or where safety systems were bypassed or defeated.

The 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, including clothing specifications
  • Checks, inspections and maintenance requirements.

A large number of case studies on real-life incidents have been documented with an analysis of the causes, consequences and outcomes of each – in many cases there were a number of causal factors. This will highlight to readers how incidents have occurred and how they could have been prevented.

Plant manufacturers form part of the working group with the ultimate intention of getting them to design out potential inadvertent operation and risks during a machine’s development phase. The guidance encompasses all plant types including those operated through a remote-control unit, except MEWPs where a separate publication from the Plant Safety Group on crushing issues has already been produced.

The working group considers that the draft document – Reducing Unintentional Movement of Plant – is now ready for a public consultation, giving those within industry the chance to comment on the content prior to its formal release. The draft document can be downloaded from along with a comment feedback sheet.

The public consultation period will close on 16 December 2016 and it is envisaged that the final version will be available in early 2017. A condensed and summarized version will subsequently be produced for easy reference.

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