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                        FOPS 1 or 2?

                        What is a FOPs?

                        FOPS stands for Falling Object Protective Structure. FOPS are operator protective devices designed to protect operators from items that may fall on a piece of earthmoving (or other) machinery when being operated.

                        Australian Workplace Health & Safety (WHS) legislation mandates the use of the risk assessment process to manage the risks of things falling on operators of powered mobile plant, and specifically identifies the need to consider the use of operator protective devices in doing so.

                        Fops-1-2

                        The model WHS legislation when first issued contained a specific mandatory requirement (Regulation 217) for ROPS and FOPS on all earthmoving equipment and expanded the definition of earthmoving equipment to include a much broader range of gear.

                        As reported in our technical updates in late 2013 and early 2014, thankfully level heads prevailed and regulation 217 was eventually repealed.

                        While repealing 217 made sense, the downside consequence of this decision is that it puts a much heavier onus back upon the risk assessment process. It means a risk assessment must be undertaken to consider when it is necessary to fit FOPS, and to what specification. Unfortunately, this requires considerable technical knowledge on the part of the plant inspector.

                        Thankfully, we good folk at Plant Assessor have done most of the heavy lifting in relation to this technical area to make it much easier for inspectors using Plant Assessor to get it right.

                        Firstly, we apply the FOPS questions to the right types of equipment, meaning you will not see a FOPS questions applied to a vibrating roller or a paving machine. Then we apply the appropriate questions and provide the right supporting information to allow an inspector to determine the need for a FOPS and the type of FOPS fitted.

                        Anyway, enough about us, let’s get back to the exciting technical details about FOPS.

                         

                        Not all FOPS are the same

                        There are two different levels of FOPS – Level 1 & Level 2.

                        The recognised standard to define the performance requirements for FOPS is ISO 3449 Earthmoving machinery – Falling object protective structures. This standard is referenced in AS2294 Earthmoving machinery – Protective structures – general.

                        ISO 3449 states the following –

                        • Level I impact protection –
                          Impact strength for protection from small falling objects (e.g. bricks, small concrete blocks, hand tools) encountered in operations such as highway maintenance, landscaping and other construction site services
                        • Level II impact protection –
                          Impact strength for protection from heavy falling objects (e.g. trees, rocks) for machines involved in site clearing, overhead demolition or forestry

                        ISO 10262 (Hydraulic excavators – Operator protective guards) includes the same definitions with the exception that excavators under 6000kg are exempt from the requirements of level II.

                         

                        Which level of FOPS does my machine require?

                        The practical application is as per these requirements – that is, it is the task the machine is used for that determines which level of FOPS is required. Most machines only require a level 1 FOPS. The following types of machines require a level 2 FOPS:

                        • Demolition machines
                        • Forestry machines
                        • Earthmoving machines used to excavate rock vertically
                        • Tunneling and underground mining machinery

                        How do I know what level of FOPS my machine has?

                        It is a requirement of ISO 3449 that each FOPS is labelled with the performance requirements that the structure meets. Therefore, your machine will have marked on the structure somewhere a reference to ISO3449 and a level that it meets. If there is no level specifically mentioned, then it is assumed it is a FOPS level 1.

                        Most machines requiring a FOPS also have a Rollover Protection Structure (ROPS). The ROPS normally incorporates the FOPS. As the labelling requirements for each standard are similar, and they are often the one structure, the information is usually on the same plate on the structure.

                         

                        Plant Assessor FOPS consideration

                        Plant Assessor only applies relevant assessment questions to those machines that FOPS may be relevant for. Below we outline the FOPS questions, and the relevant information included in the Plant Assessor risk assessment if a FOPS is confirmed as present by the inspector.

                         

                        Level 1 FOPS – Plant Assessor question

                        Is this item of plant fitted with a Falling Objects Protective Structure (FOPS) to ISO 3449 Level I or ISO 10262 Level I?

                        • Answer YES if compliance plate states compliance to ISO 3449 or ISO 10262 but not a level.
                        • Answer NO if no FOPS is fitted.
                        • Answer N/A if Level II FOPS.

                        To answer this question, you will need to locate the compliance plate which will be attached somewhere on the structure.

                         

                        Level 1 FOPS – risk information included in Plant Assessor report

                        This item of plant is fitted with a Level I Falling Objects Protective Structure (FOPS). This structure is designed to protect the operator from small falling objects (e.g. bricks, small concrete blocks and hand tools)

                        Before operating this item of plant, a task-based risk assessment must be conducted to determine the level of FOPS required.

                        • Level I – withstands 1,365 joules (e.g. 20kgs @ 7m drop, 70kgs @ 2m drop)
                        • – operations such as highway maintenance, landscaping, and other construction site services
                        • Level II – withstands 11,600 joules (e.g. 200kgs @ 6m drop, 394kgs @ 3m drop)
                        • – operations such as site clearing, overhead demolition or forestry

                        To answer this question, you will need to locate the compliance plate which will be attached somewhere on the structure.

                         

                        Level 2 FOPS – Plant Assessor question

                        Is this item of plant fitted with a Falling Objects Protective Structure (FOPS) to ISO 3449 Level II or ISO 10262 Level II?

                        • Answer N/A if no FOPS or Level I FOPS.

                        As with the Level 1 FOPS question, you will need to locate the compliance plate to answer this question.

                         

                        Level 2 FOPS – Risk information included if FOPS present

                        This item of plant is fitted with a level II Falling Objects Protective Structure (FOPS). This structure is designed to protect the operator from heavy falling objects (e.g. trees, rocks).

                        Care should still be exercised when operating in an area with a risk of falling objects.

                         

                        Summary

                        Operator protective guards, and in particular FOPS, is a relatively complex area of machinery safety. Hopefully, the information above will assist you to understand and manage this key area.

                        As always, we are keen to hear your feedback and your suggestions for other topics on which you would like us to provide more information.

                         

                         


                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information. 

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