A construction worker has been seriously injured after an excavator bucket fell and struck him.
The man was working near an excavator on a Queensland construction site back in November 2022. It’s understood the excavator’s bucket detached from a quick hitch on the dipper arm unexpectedly, and struck the worker. WorkSafe Queensland is currently investigating the incident.
Safety concerns related to quick hitches
Quick hitches are designed to make the process of fitting and changing attachments on machinery more efficient. However, they can pose a safety risk to machinery operators, and others in the vicinity, when they are not used correctly. Quick hitches can become detached for various reasons, including safety pins not being properly installed, or loss of hydraulic pressure. As a result, there have been many instances of injuries and fatalities due to the incorrect use of quick hitches in Australia, pushing at least one state to ban the use of certain types of quick hitches.
NSW is leading the way in this area, banning the use of semi-automatic quick hitches, and some fully automatic quick hitches that allow attachments to swing as a result of hydraulic failure. This ban officially came into force at the beginning of 2023, after the NSW Government issued a position statement on the matter back in 2014. To find out more about this, head to our article; Semi-automatic & some fully automatic quick hitches now banned in NSW. These bans have been implemented in a bid to prevent the incidents that occur as a result of operator error or, in all honesty, foreseeable misuse, where semi-automatic quick hitches do not have a safety pin fitted, leading to them detaching, and striking a person.
What are other ways to control the risks with quick hitches?
A number of measures can be implemented to prevent further avoidable and tragic incidents involving quick hitches from occurring. These include:
Ensuring a manual locking pin is always used on semi automatic hitches
Ensuring your quick hitch meets the requirements of AS 4772. More information can be found here.
Using fully automatic quick hitches that don’t allow swinging in the event of a hydraulic failure instead of semi-automatic quick hitches where possible. However, if you decide to use a semi-automatic quick hitch, make sure the safety pin is put in place. Consider also painting your safety pin a bright colour, such as red, so it is easily noticeable.
Conducting a risk assessment on the machine to identify any risks associated with the quick hitch used on the machine.
Ensuring workers read safe operating procedure (SOP) documents before operating machinery with quick hitches.
Ensuring workers have access to and have read and understand the OEM manual for the hitch
Providing workers and operators with personal protective equipment (PPE) where appropriate.
Plant Assessor can help you manage quick hitch risks
If you use quick hitches to fit attachments to your machinery and need guidance on how to mitigate risk, use Plant Assessor. You can conduct a digital risk assessment specific to your machine type which will help you to identify any risks related to your machine and its quick hitch, plus provide you with recommended corrective actions to implement. Plant Assessor also has a number of other features to help you with your machinery compliance and safety including a free digital pre-start app, service and maintenance scheduling, and downloadable SOPs for scores of machine types. If you’d like further information about quick-hitch safety or Plant Assessor, don’t hesitate to contact our team of machinery compliance experts on 1300 728 852 or email@example.com.
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.