While speed, efficiency, output and value for money are essential for any operation, none of these factors should ever trump safety. It is the unflinching focus on safety across all areas of industry that has resulted in a significant fall in the rate of workplace accidents during the past 10 years.
But as industries evolve, so too will risk – so the focus on safety should continue to be unrelenting. As Martin Temple, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) chair, said: “Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but we should always be looking to improve and to prevent incidents that cost lives.”
Driven by the push for more recycling and reduced landfill, the waste and recycling industry is one of the fastest evolving sectors – and remains one of the most hazardous in which to work and visit. Implementing safe practice according to HSE guidance within waste and recycling sites is of course vital. In addition, given that large vehicles moving around increasingly busy waste and recycling sites pose one of the greatest safety hazards, then a significant step to mitigating accident risk can be taken by selecting vehicles such as telehandlers, lift trucks and wheeled loading shovels that have been designed with safety in mind.
In fact with innovative design, features that improve safety can also boost productivity. Take JCB’s Teletruk, for example. Thanks to the forward reach ability of its telescopic boom, the Teletruk can load and offload pallets of recycled items from just one side of a trailer – unlike a traditional masted forklift. Eliminating the need to travel to both sides of a lorry will drastically reduce the risk of an accident. Furthermore, it saves loading/unloading time and 50% of yard space.
Numerous safety features can be found on in a wide range of vehicles commonly operated by waste and recycling sites. Here are seven tips to selecting a vehicle with safety in mind.
1. Operator Visibility. The vehicle’s cab should offer all-round visibility for the operator and a clear view of the vehicle’s extremities. A panoramic front screen and a large roof screen will help. These features are made possible thanks to the use of direct glazing, which absorbs some of the torsional body loadings, and therefore increases rigidity and strength. It is important to keep the screen clear on what can be mucky sites. Well-designed front fender flaps, such as can be found on the JCB 560-80 Wastemaster telehandler, help to keep screens clean by minimising forward spray, in addition to decreasing debris build-up on the machine. Sufficient demisting vents and mirrors should be positioned so that they are unobscured by the cabin’s pillars or bonnet. Heated mirrors will clear condensation quickly to allow the vehicle to become operational without delay.
2. Vehicle Visibility. Features to improve a vehicle’s visibility include high-vis chevrons, presence beacons, flashing rear beacons and a rear detection system. These will make people aware of the vehicle’s location at all times. A reversing alarm will alert bystanders to vehicle movements.
3. Access. There is a double edge to access when it comes to safety. On one hand, an operator should be able to access a vehicle without hazard. This will require several points of contact for entering and exiting the machine, with evenly spaced access steps that are purposely inclined to ensure safe passage. On the other hand, unwarranted access to the machine’s hazardous areas should be prevented. Take, for example, the JCB 457 wheeled loading shovel. It has red and white chevrons at the rear of the machine, and gated entry to an electronically operated one-piece engine compartment located safely at ground level. This configuration means operators need not access the top area of the machine where there is a risk of slipping or falling, especially in icy or wet weather conditions.
There will be a reduced risk to technicians and operators conducting routine maintenance and inspections on vehicles that allow daily checks to be conducted from inside the cab. This will also be far more efficient.
4. Operator comfort: Because waste and recycling vehicles generally operate long shifts, it is crucial for an operator to be comfortable so they are better able to concentrate on the task in hand. Cab design should cater for a variety of shapes and sizes of operator. Isolator mounted cabs with reduce vibrations and noise reduction will keep things quiet. An ergonomic cab will allow the operator to see and reach the controls intuitively and operate them with minimal effort. During the course of a shift, such features will minimise fatigue and any consequential drop in concentration.
5. Operator protection. Meeting the roll over and falling over protection regulations (ROPS and FOPS) is, of course, essential. A roll over protection structure will provide complete assurance should the unthinkable happen. Dust is common at waste and recycling sites, and sometimes it can be harmful. A cab that is positively pressurised against dust will ensure the driver has clean air. Large filters will be harder to block and ensure constant airflow.
6. Lighting. Front and rear work lights give good all-round illumination, while LED lights allow ultimate productivity and safety in the dark. Where the vehicle has a rear hitch, such as on JCB 560-80 Wastemaster telehandler, a work light will make for a safe and efficient operation.
7. Technology. There are numerous technological developments that can enhance vehicle safety. For example, adaptive load control technology to automatically control hydraulic operation, helping to maintain vehicle stability; hose burst check valves to protect the rams from collapse in the event of a hose failure; an interlocking seatbelt preventing an operator from starting the machine until the belt is fastened; telematics to provide information and performance monitoring, allowing fleet managers and owners remote access to realtime machine working data, including operating hours and fault codes; and automotive-style power brakes that offer proportional braking throughout pedal travel, delivering improved braking and safe stopping.
- MRW will take an in-depth look at waste sector vehicle and on-site safety in the December 2016 issue