A guide to the safe use of telehandlers in construction has been launched in the UK by the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group, an industry group charged with providing industry advice on the use of equipment in the UK's construction sector.
The 86-page Safe Use of Telehandlers in Construction guide has been written in response to the number of accidents involving telehandlers - with 765 reported serious incidents in the last 10 years - and because telehandlers are becoming larger, with lifting heights of up to 22 m.
"The idea that it's a little lift truck, and that you can apply little lift truck mentality, no longer applies", said Kevin Minton, senior manager at the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), who was involved in creating the safe use guide.
According to Tim Watson, the CPA technical consultant who authored the guidance, three key issues are the planning and management of telehandler operations; training assessments; and familiarisation with machines.
"It's terribly important that we don't just concentrate on just one area. We need to focus on all three", he said, speaking at the launch of the document at the Executive Hire Show (EHS) in Coventry.
He said a lot of accident occurred when telehandlers were working with suspended loads. "It is most important - when you are handling suspended loads the operational management has to go up a notch", said Mr Watson.
In addition to planning of telehandler operations, the guide provides clear advice on issues such as lifting personnel, stating that non-integrated personnel baskets should not be used for planned tasks on site. "We had a lot of debate about this one and in the end we came down to a very definite statement", said Mr Watson.
The safe use guide also goes into some details about the importance of using the correct tyres. Mr Watson cited the case of one contractor who found that 30% of its telehandlers were fitted with inappropriate or non-matching tyres.
Colin Wood, managing director of the CPA, said there was a strong message for rental companies and end users; "Telehandlers are the Swiss army knife of the site...and they are the biggest bit of kit that is rented without an operator. That makes it critical to have dedicated operators.
"They get used as a glorified dumper - and that's when the problems come. Wherever possible, they need to have dedicated drivers."
The publication was prepared by a working group including representatives from the CPA, BITA (British Industrial Truck Association), Merlo, JLG, JCB, Hewden and Select Plant.
The publication can be freely downloaded the CPA and BITA websites at www.cpa.uk.net/p/Telehandlers/ and www.bita.org.uk
The new document complements the pocket-sized BITA safety booklet Operator's Safety Code for Rough Terrain Lift Trucks (the ‘red book'), which is also offered via the BITA website.