New safety guide launched for suction excavators

A good practice guide has been launched for the safe use of suction/vacuum excavators.

Produced by the Suction and Vacuum Excavator (SAVE) special interest group, the 84-page guide is available to download from the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) website.

The publication follows the death in July 2015 of an operator of a truck-mounted unit. The CPA said this tragedy highlighted the need to define “common operational standards” and the management of suction and vacuum excavators.

The guide covers topics including .

  • Personnel, training and certification;
  • Management of the operation and the selection of machines;
  • Travelling to and from sites, arrival and setting up;
  • Carrying out excavation activity including the use of ground engaging tools;
  • Dealing with blockages and other emergency procedures;
  • Leaving sites and movement of waste requirements.

Specific recommendations are included around lone working, the use of a second operator and other supporting staff, and information relating to contaminated ground containing radioactive waste. Also included are clean-up procedures that should be followed when hazardous materials are drawn into a machine.

Pat Burke, managing director of Force One Limited and chair of the SAVE special interest group said, “Following the tragic accident, it was heartening that owners, hirers, contractors, clients and the HSE came together to form the special interest group and collectively aim to raise safety standards through this Good Practice Guide. I thank the group for their time, energy and commitment in producing this publication, which is the first of a number that we aim to devise.

“To endorse our commitment to relaying the safety message for the safe use of suction/vacuum excavators, we’ve allowed the publication to be available free of charge. I encourage all those involved with suction/vacuum excavator operations to note and follow our recommendations.”