25 Sep 2009

Scissor Lift Safety Alert

Safety Alert - Liftlux Models SL260-25, SL245-25, SL210-25 and 205-25

Introduction

The purpose of this Information Bulletin is to alert employers and employees about recent structural failures of the main support structure (chassis) on Liftlux models SL260-25 and SL245-25 scissor lifts. This information is being provided in advance of the conclusion of HSE’s investigations so that the industry can take prompt action to prevent a recurrence. During the incidents cracks propagated across the entire width of the chasses causing the machines to collapse as shown in Figure 1.  Following these incidents a number of machines of the same models but different ages were withdrawn from service and visually inspected in the same area of the chassis.  On many of the machines cracks were found that could potentially have led to similar failures. No similar failures have yet been identified in Liftlux models 210-25 and 205-25, although because these models are of a similar design, they should also be subject to the action detailed below.

Background

The size of the cracks found on the machines appears to be proportional to the registered hours of use, i.e. the largest cracks were found on the machines with the highest recorded service hours.  This is indicative of a fatigue failure which occurs when cyclic stresses cause a small crack to propagate (grow) until it reaches a critical size. If undetected this could result in a structural failure of the chassis when the critical size (currently unknown) is reached.
Preliminary examinations suggest that the fatigue cracks might have initiated in an area where several features of the chassis have been welded together on the underside of the machine as shown in Figure 3 & 4.   Fatigue is then thought to have been induced by the constant cycling of the ram each time the platform is raised and lowered causing the crack to grow.  The cracks showed signs of growing into the horizontal area at the side of the machine (near the starting batteries) as shown in Figure 2.  In the later stages crack growth is believed to progress into the vertical section of chassis in the area shown in Figure 2.  It is also likely that cracking may be present on the opposite side of the machine but this position is hidden by the tank for the hydraulic fluid.

Action to be taken

If you have one of these machines and have not completed the inspection as required by the manufacturers’ bulletins released recently, you should immediately withdraw it from service so that it can be examined by a competent person.  The inspection procedure is detailed below:
During examination, extreme care must be taken to ensure that the examination is done safely without a risk to the examiner should the chassis collapse.  For example, additional props and supports should be placed under the machine chassis if the examiner needs to gain access beneath it.
  1. Park the machine on a firm, level, supporting surface free of overhead obstructions. Ensure the machine is shut down and the key removed.
  2. Locate and identify the chassis frame baseplate transverse weld as shown in Figure 3.
  3. Visually inspect for signs of weld or parent metal cracks along the entire length of the weld.
  4. Replace the key, and prepare the machine for operation in accordance with its Operation & Safety Manual. From the ground controls, elevate the platform approximately 2 metres, shut the machine down and inspect the area indicated in Figure 3 for signs of cracks on both sides of the Scissor Lift.
  5. Locate and identify the hydraulic compartment as shown in Figure1.
  6. Visually inspect for signs of weld or parent metal cracks, in particular in the area to the left of the starter batteries
  7. If any crack or other discrepancy is found, cease operation, remove the scissor lift from service and contact your Liftlux agent or competent person who should be able to advise you on the appropriate course of action to take.
  8. Should any further discrepancies be discovered during the accomplishment of this procedure, contact your Liftlux agent or competent person.
If no cracks are detected then employers should determine a suitable interval time for re- examination of these parts of the machine by a competent person between thorough examinations.

Relevant legal references

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 especially sections 2 and 3
Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
Regulation 9(3) of LOLER requires persons in control of lifting equipment to ensure that lifting equipment for lifting persons which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is thoroughly examined at least every six months or in accordance with an examination scheme and, if appropriate for the purpose, is inspected by a competent person at suitable intervals between thorough examinations.
Further information is available in “Safe use of Lifting Equipment” Approved Code of Practice and Guidance (L113).

General note

Please pass this information to anyone you think may need it.
Liftlux lift
Fig 1. Scissor lift after catastrophic failure of chassis.
Arrow shows hydraulic compartment
Liftlux hyraulic compartment
Fig 2. Hydraulics compartment showing area where catastrophic failure is evident.
Liftlux weld beneath body
Fig 3. Showing transverse weld beneath body. This is at access end of the machine near the ram.
Liftlux weld failure
Fig 4 Transverse weld beneath body showing weld failure.

Transcript Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/liftlux-scissor-lifts.htm (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence).




Good to Go Safety now supply inspection systems for MEWPs - to find out more please visit the website at http://www.goodtogosafety.co.uk/mewp.php to help prevent similar incidents in the workplace.
24 Sep 2009

Forklift Accident Statistics

North/South divide in fork lift accidents

New black-spot statistics reveal TWICE as many Northerners hospitalised or killed

   
Workers in the North of England and Scotland are twice as likely to be injured or killed in accidents involving fork lift trucks as counterparts south of the Watford Gap.
The startling findings, revealed in figures and maps released today by the Fork Lift Truck Association to mark its National Fork Lift Safety Week, are based upon HSE statistics between 2001 and 2008 and come in spite of roughly equal fork lift sales in the two areas.
Yorkshire and the West Midlands are a particular concern, accounting for the top seven danger-zones Association’s list of the UK’s the ten accident black-spots.
The South does not escape incident-free, however; Milton Keynes is eighth on the list with 150 serious accidents over the last seven years – almost one every fortnight – and is closely followed by both Northampton and Thurrock in Essex.
 
The 10 Worst Areas for Fork Lift Truck Accidents:

1. Birmingham, West Midlands
2. Wakefield, Yorkshire
3. Leeds, Yorkshire
4. Doncaster, Yorkshire
5. Sandwell, West Midlands
6. Bradford, Yorkshire
7. Walsall, West Midlands
8. Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
9. Northampton, Northamptonshire
10. Thurrock, Essex 
Click to see a large map
North/South divide in fork lift truck
accidents - click to see larger version


Men, older workers and lorry drivers at risk
Male workers were warned to learn from their female colleagues, as it was revealed that – even accounting for an uneven split in the industry’s employment figures – the rate of serious injuries among men was up to five times higher than for women.
There was also worrying news for workers over 45, announced as having the highest fatality rate, and HGV drivers waiting while their lorries are loaded and unloaded.

However, FLTA chief executive David Ellison was keen to emphasise that the Safety Week’s message is for everyone – including those who do not regularly work with fork lift trucks.
He said: “With over 400 hospitalisations a year, major fork lift truck accidents happen literally every day in the UK. Most are avoidable, and usually the victim is NOT the truck’s operator.
“These are major, life-shattering injuries like crushings and amputations. Last year, ten people were killed – and with fork lifts working on an estimated 100,000 UK sites, literally anyone could be at risk.
“Wherever you are, please remember to keep an eye open for fork lift trucks, and simply steer well clear. Don’t assume you’ve been seen by the operator, and make allowance for possible mistakes.  Quite simply, look out for each other.

Good to Go Safety are pleased to support this year's National Forklift Safety Week, visit the FLTA website for more information and free downloads.

11 Sep 2009

Firm Prosecuted for Scaffold Collapse

Warning to scaffolding companies after firm prosecuted for collapse

Scaffolding companies need to double check their structures are safe and secure, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned following the collapse of scaffolding at an industrial unit in Caerphilly.

The incident on the Western Industrial Estate resulted in a fine for the Cardiff-based scaffolding company responsible for the unsecured structure which collapsed in June 2006. Fortunately, no-one was injured in the incident, which occurred just 20 minutes before a change of shift at the factory.

Linmar Scaffolding Ltd, of Compass Road, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 8 (b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 when it appeared at Abergavenny Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (8th Sept). The company was fined £1,800 and ordered to pay costs of £5,400.

HSE construction Inspector Dean Baker said: "Our investigation showed that this scaffolding was not properly secured to the building, which is a basic requirement for structures of this type. Scaffolding erection is the stock-in trade of this company but they failed to secure the scaffolding using appropriate ties.

"The scaffolding remained standing for 11 days after it was originally put up, so there was a significant risk of it collapsing while it was in use. Had it collapsed 20 minutes later than it actually did, it would have coincided with a change of shift and there could well have been casualties. CCTV footage shows people walking near the scaffolding just two minutes before the collapse, so it was lucky that no-one was actually hurt."

COI/W/473/09 8 September 2009
Transcript Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2009/coiw47309.htm (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence).




Once again, the importance for routine inspections is highlighted within this report. The Good to Go Safety inspection system for scaffolding is flexible to allow pre-use, pre-shift, daily or weekly inspections. Any one of which would have highlighted the faults in place at this site. Yet again this accident could have been avoided for a cost of around £0.30 for an inspection, rather than paying out costs of £7,200. The potential cost could have been much higher however if workers were actually using the structure at the time of its collapse.
4 Sep 2009

Ladder Exchange - Have you checked yours?

Following on from some of my recent posts about the current Ladder Exchange Initiative that is being hosted by the HSE until the end of this year, I was hoping to try and gauge how many people are actually taking advantage of this opportunity.

To recap, the idea is that any UK business can check their ladders, and if found to be damaged or faulty, they have the opportunity to exchange it for a new replacement ladder at a discounted price.

Personally, I think this is a fantastic campaign as it works on two levels: It encourages ladder inspections and it offers something back (up to 50% off a new set of ladders) to those that do.

Everyone loves a bargain, and tying it in with a strong health and safety message can only be a good thing for your business. So if you have carried out an inspection as a result of hearing about this campaign, or if you have swapped your old ladder for a new one as part of Ladder Exchange then please let me know and share your comments with other like-minded individuals.

Naturally we feel that by using Good to Go Safety inspection systems we can help to prevent the potentially fatal use of faulty ladders or alternative 'working at heights' equipment such as MEWPs (cherry pickers etc). To find out more about our ladder systems visit http://www.goodtogosafety.co.uk/ladder.php



Below you can find a transcript from an HSE Q&A session regarding the ladder exchange, or for more information about the Initiative visit the HSE website which has a section dedicated to this year's Ladder Exchange Initiative:

Q You’re involved in this campaign that the HSE is running at the moment about ladders and getting, is it getting free ladders, new ladders?

A It’s not getting free ladders but what we’re saying is if you’ve got a ladder which is broken or damaged or bent rather than using it and putting yourself at risk or your workers at risk you can actually take it in to one of our sort of partner companies and you can exchange it and what these companies have agreed to do is actually to give a discount against the value of the new ladder. In some areas they’re giving as much as 50% off so we’re just encouraging people to rather than keeping broken ladders or using them to take them in to one of the participating outlets and then swap them for a new one.

Q Have you done this before?

A We’ve run it for 2 years now and to date we’ve had over five and half thousand ladders have been exchanged so we’re really hoping to build on that. We’ve got more participating outlets, more companies on board with us this year. Because of the success we’ve had so far we’re actually going to run it as an annual initiative now so it’ll run every year.

Q Can I ask you, we’ve all got a kind of image in our mind haven’t we of people falling off ladders you know sort of comedy moments Norman Wisdom that kind of thing.

A Yeah.

Q But I mean how much of a problem are ladders at work? How much of a hazard are they really.

A Obviously they can be a hazard. We do find a lot of them lying around and for no particular reason sometimes. We ask about them, what do you use your ladders for and they just say oh they’ve been there for ages. We don’t, we don’t use them so we’re trying to encourage people to, to think a bit more about the jobs they use and not just grab a ladder when they think they need one.

Q You’re not just saying that ladders are supposed to be safe which is what you were saying. What you’re saying is actually try not to use them, try and think about the job that you’re doing. Well what would you use instead of a ladder, can you give me an example?

A Yeah there’s a number of things. Depending on the length/duration of the job if you’re going to do something, do something on a regular basis that involved work at height then investing in mobile tower scaffold that you can move around would be a good example. Larger companies go for things like MEWPs and cherry pickers and scissor lifts so that they can control the work at height more safely.

Q So if, you know if I was an employer and I wanted to take advantage of this project that you’re running what, what would I do?

A Well you can take your ladder or ladders along to any one of the participating outlets and basically you can exchange them for new ones and there’s all of these different discounts which vary by partner company. If you visit the HSE website we’ve actually got a ladder exchange webpage on there which details all of the companies involved and the different sorts of discounts that they’re offering as well. So you literally take your ladder along, the companies are recycling the dodgy ladders as well so you won’t get them back. They’re taken away and recycled and then you’ll walk away with a new ladder as well which means you’ll be able to use it to work at height safely.

Transcript Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/podcasts/2009/ladder-trans.htm (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence).
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