New guidance issued on lifting operations with excavators

THE Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group (SFPSG) has released new safety guidance around lifting operations with excavators.

A document called ‘Lifting Operations With 180⁰ and 360⁰ Excavators’ is an update on the group’s original guidance publication which was introduced in 2008. Additions are so widespread that the guidance has increased from seven to 72 pages in recognition of the increased use of excavators in lifting procedures.

The guide sets out the precautions and procedures that should be taken into account when planning and carrying out lifting operations with tracked and wheeled excavators as well as backhoe loaders.

A number of risks are highlighted when carrying out lifting operations which are not present with conventional cranes, such as:

  • Fast articulation and slew movements of the hydraulic services;
  • The need to operate the boom and dipper arm simultaneously to keep the load vertical when lifting or placing loads;
  • Standard excavator rated capacity warning devices generally only warn, do not prevent the handling of loads in excess of the rated capacity and can be muted by the machine operator;
  • That rated capacity varies if lifting over the front and rear or side-on to the machine and if features such as blades, stabilisers and axle locks are engaged or not;
  • That some appointed persons need may not have the experience of planning and supervising lifting operations with excavators.

Topics covered include planning and supervision requirements, machine selection, roles and responsibilities, specific issues and maintenance and inspections.

Chair of the Plant Safety Group, Kevin Minton, director of the CPA said, “As lifting using excavators has become much more prolific and in many cases, excavators are only lifting equipment on site, it was time for us to update and expand the guidance, highlighting and emphasising that lifting suspended loads with excavators is no different to the management and execution of the lifting of loads using a traditional crane.

“The increased guidance means that lift planners now need to think carefully about just using an excavator for the lifting operations on their site even though it may be convenient. I thank the Plant Safety Group for undertaking and completing this work and ask all those planning and executing lifting operations with excavators to follow the advice given within the guidance.”