Skanska UK takes safety stand on quick hitches

By Chris Sleight11 May 2009

Skanska UK has announced plans to ban all semi-automatic and automatic quick hitches from its UK sites by 1 November.

Semi-automatic quick hitches have been linked to several fatal accidents in the UK over recent years, and one such accident took place on a Skanska UK site in December.

Semi-automatic quick hitches require the excavator operator to get out of the cab and manually insert a locking pin having picked-up a bucket or attachment. If this is not done the bucket can fall off the quick coupler, and this is invariably fatal if it hits someone.

Skanska UK launched a consultation exercise following the accident in December, and has now informed its suppliers and sub-contractors that ‘new generation' quick couplers will be required from 1 November. These are automatic devices that lock both bucket pins.

The six month wait for implementation of the new policy is to allow suppliers and sub-contractors to source sufficient new quick couplers. In the meantime Skanska UK is launching an internal safety campaign to highlight best practices and practical safety issues for existing quick coupler designs.

Greg Craig, managing director of Skanska UK's Civil Engineering business said, "We have decided to drive change into our supply chain in response to a very serious issue that has plagued out industry. We hope other contractors will follow."

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