To mark National Safe Digging Week, Mark Royse, head of sales at Mecalac Construction Equipment UK, discusses the importance of responsible digging and explains why site safety – both above and below the ground – should be seen as a key national priority.
According to data from Line Search Before U Dig (LSBUD), the free-to-use online utility asset map search system, more than 126,000 commercial and domestic digging projects are carried out across the UK every year. However, an estimated one in four people fail to properly check for hazards before breaking ground, leaving them open to unnecessary accidents and costly repairs.
Whether a simple landscaping redesign or the groundworks for a multi-million-pound infrastructure project, understanding the risks of ‘digging blind’ is essential. Indeed, with the hazards of pipe and cable damage, environmental harm, flooding, power outages and damage to broadband lines a real possibility, the implications of getting it wrong can be serious.
At Mecalac, we fully support the calls of National Safe Digging Week (4-11 July) and echo the message of ‘search before you dig’. As a global leader in compact construction equipment, we’ve been leading the charge when it comes to digging safety for more than 70 years – after all, an excavator bucket can cause significant sub-surface damage if operated incorrectly.
But while we appreciate the importance of safe digging, we also think that safety above the surface should be considered equally as important. Indeed, with tens of thousands of construction professionals injured on site in the UK alone every year (whether through falls, collisions, trips or slips), safety should be seen as a national priority – not simply an afterthought.
While our state-of-the-art models are best known for their compact dimensions, iconic designs and impressive capability, we put safety at the heart of every new product design. From site dumpers and compaction rollers, to backhoe loaders and our unique portfolio of both excavators and loaders, the Mecalac product portfolio leads the way in safety-critical features and first-to-market technologies.
Our MDX cabbed site dumper range, as an example, sets the global standards in on-site safety. Operators benefit from simple and safe access, thanks to high visibility and easy reach steps and handrails, as well as excellent engine access enabling all servicing operations from ground level. In order to ensure a higher level of operator protection in any situation, the certified ROPS/FOPS MDX cab has been designed to withstand impacts while loading the dumper skip.
This approach is continuous across our ROPS site dumper suite too. All six and nine-tonne models feature Shield – our comprehensive package of safety-critical operator features – as standard. Key technologies include start & drive interlock, handbrake warning, digital speedometer, fuel loss warning sensor, automatic idle shut-off, park brake test and Stop-Start Control™. All Shield safety features are adjustable to suit different applications and can be disabled where not required.
But it’s not just our site dumpers. Take our MCR crawler-skid excavators as another example. While designed with speed, productivity and 360˚ compactness at the heart, safety has been considered equally as important at every stage of product development. From boasting class-leading visibility and a large colour screen display monitor, to easy-access service hatches and refuelling points accessible from the ground, every aspect has been considered from a safety perspective.
Each model is even fitted with our CONNECT quick coupler, making it simple to change attachments from inside the cab and eliminating the need for operators to venture outside to manually switch between buckets and tools. Furthermore, anti-drop safety valves are included as standard, which makes it impossible to drop a bucket once lifted from the ground thanks to an automatic hook system.
So, when it comes to celebrating National Safe Digging Week, we’re flying the flag for the manufacturers. Being prepared, understanding your surroundings (both sub and above ground) and using the right equipment is essential to maximising the safety of your project. Our vision is for zero accidents on site and we’ll continue to invest in the latest technologies and capabilities to make this a reality.