Management of mobile plant

Lesson Progress:

Whether you are an operator or not, the site rules on the safe operation and segregation of mobile plant and people should be explained to you during your site induction.

A well-managed site will be organised to reduce the chance of accidents between mobile plant and people on foot. Measures, such as the following examples, will be in place.

  • Separate site entrances for mobile plant and pedestrians.
  • Separate routes for mobile plant and people on foot, with barriers between them.
  • Mobile plant is only operated by competent, authorised persons.
  • One-way systems and site speed limits.
  • Amber flashing beacons on mobile plant.
  • All lights are working and switched on after dark or where natural light levels are low.
  • All visual aids (such as mirrors and CCTV) are clean and in good condition.
  • Turning areas, so that reversing is banned or minimised.
  • A vehicle marshaller to control movement of mobile plant.

The most common types of accident are listed below.

  • Being struck by reversing or moving mobile plant.
  • Loss of control or overturning when working, travelling across or manoeuvring on slopes.
  • People falling when climbing in or out of the machine.
  • Accidental operation of mobile plant that has been left with the engine running – often occurring as operators are getting in or out of the machine.
  • Being crushed between a structure and mobile plant as it moves or slews around.

Many accidents involving mobile plant happen because plant is large and the operator has a restricted view. Extra mirrors and CCTV are sometimes fitted to improve the operator’s all-round vision. You should not rely on operators using CCTV and mirrors because, for example, a camera lens can be blocked by dirt which would affect the operator’s ability to see you. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep yourself safe. Do not rely on the operator seeing you.

If you are close to moving or operating mobile plant you could be at risk. Whenever possible, stay within the designated pedestrian routes.

A mobile crane slewing, an excavator digging or a lorry tipping material, whilst not travelling, can still be a danger if you get too close.

The chance of an accident involving mobile plant and people on foot increases after dark. Even when wearing high-visibility clothing or if the lighting is good the operator may still not see you. The use of working lights should improve safety, but it is not a guarantee.

After dark and at other times when light is poor, you will be harder to see.

Operator’s field of vision is restricted

The movement of vehicles and plant should be directed and controlled by a competent person in situations where people could be at risk, such as when a lorry is reversing or when a crane is carrying out a lift.

A vehicle marshaller controls the movement of vehicles. A signaller controls the movement of a crane or load being lifted.

If you are the operator and you lose sight of the person directing you, you must stop and locate them before continuing.

Do not try to operate any item of plant unless you are trained, competent and authorised. Some companies will require the operator to hold the appropriate industry competence card (such as the Construction Plant Competence Scheme).

Plant safe zones

The following diagrams are for guidance purposes and provide information on the safe zones applicable to a range of plant machinery likely to be used on site.

Always signal the plant operator and wait for a positive response before entering Zone 1. Keep out of Zone 2 at all times.

Slewing plant

Clearance must take into account the reduced space if the crane tips

As the rear of a slewing crane or excavator turns, the gap between the rear of the machine and a fixed object (such as a wall, stack of materials or other plant) becomes much smaller (becoming a crush zone).

This type of accident can and has happened because people on foot did not stay clear of mobile plant, took a short cut or followed a route that was not safe.

If the gap is 600 mm or less during slewing then the gap should be fenced or blocked off.

If you are operating plant (such as a pedestrian roller or mobile elevating work platform (MEWP)), always be aware of what is behind or above – you may accidentally create your own crush zone.

Stay out of the crush zone. The shortest route may not be the safest route.