Stabilising standards: ALLMI comments on the latest Machinery Directive

12 August 2009

Fassi

Fassi

A new Machinery Directive will be implemented in Europe this year, including a requirement for stabiliser interlocks. Alan Johnson, technical manager at the Association of Lorry Loader Manufacturers and Importers (ALLMI) in the UK discusses how it will affect the industry.

On 29 December 2009 the new Machinery Directive will be implemented in Europe. The revision of this Directive means that all related European standards have also had to be revised and this includes EN12999, which covers the requirements for loader cranes.

As the leading authority for loader cranes in the UK, ALLMI has representatives heavily involved with this revision.

The amended loader crane standard is still at draft stage but, when this article was written in May, one of the most significant changes planned for introduction was the requirement for stabiliser interlocks. The draft states that on loader cranes with a rated capacity of 1,000 kg or above, or a maximum net lifting moment of 40,000 Nm or above, the stability of the vehicle will be incorporated into the safety function(s) of the rated capacity limiter (RCL).

This means specifically that the deployment of every stabiliser is monitored by the RCL and the rated capacity will be reduced or the crane stopped if the stabiliser is not properly deployed. Timber cranes will be exempt from this requirement.

Introduction of this safety system follows several years of discussion. Ever since the stabiliser interlocking issue first arose it has always been the stated wish of ALLMI to work with the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the correct arena to achieve these changes in a sustainable and product-reliable way. This has been the case.

ALLMI and the HSE have been represented at the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) meetings, together with other member body representatives to get the standard to this stage.

Cost and design

But what will this new requirement mean for operators in terms of how loader cranes are used? It is nearly always the case that most new safety devices meet with some market resistance both in terms of cost and user friendliness.

In terms of user friendliness, any operator using their loader crane correctly, i.e. for its designed purpose and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, should experience little or no difference in operation. Operators, however, who fail to use the crane stabilisers properly, either deliberately or otherwise, are the ones who may experience some issues and, of course, the standard has been developed to this level to protect them.

Overall, the feedback received by ALLMI is that there are many operators who will welcome any device which improves safety and there are others who will regard it as burdensome and an unnecessary additional cost.

Ultimately, the standard has evolved to this stage as a result of the incorrect deployment of stabilisers being a significant cause of accidents and sometimes fatalities.

To fail to address this issue is not an option.

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