Machinery checks will improve site safety in the waste sector

On-site safety across the waste industry is greatly enhanced if equipment operators are encouraged to follow a few basic vehicle safety and maintenance checks at the start of every shift, says David Banks, JCB’s Sales Manager

Checks booked?

It is well documented that waste and recycling facilities are potentially dangerous places to work.

Last year, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) identified poorly maintained equipment as one of the main causes of accidents in the sector and there is no doubt that on-site safety is greatly enhanced if equipment operators follow a few routine vehicle safety and maintenance checks at the start of every shift.

Of course, each piece of materials handling equipment (MHE) will have its own specific pre-shift safety regime but there are a number of simple inspections that should be undertaken regardless of the make or model.

For instance, before the machine has been turned on, operators should:

Ensure that the tyres have no damage and that the tyre tread is adequate;
Check that the machine’s windscreen is not damaged and visibility through the screen is not impaired;
Make sure that, when entering or exiting the machine, three points of contact are available to avoid slips and trips;
Ensure that the seat belt is in good condition and fits securely;
Test the vehicle’s warning horn.

Once the engine has been started, operators should:

Check that the mirror is positioned to offer 360 degree visibility;
Ensure that the reverse alarm is working properly by engaging reverse gear;
Test the vehicle’s lights, front and rear wipers and beacon.
And, when it comes to daily maintenance, operators should take time to check their vehicle’s engine oil, hydraulic oil and coolant levels and assess the air filter and washer fluid level at the start of every shift.

Any problems identified during the safety and maintenance checks should be reported immediately to the site’s maintenance department.

As part of an industry-wide initiative aimed at improving health and safety within the waste and recycling sectors, JCB has produced a series of five films that promote the safe and efficient operation of handling machinery at waste sites. The films are available to watch, free of charge, via YouTube and other social media platforms and are dedicated to specific machines in the JCB WasteMaster range. They cover essential pre-shift checks, basic maintenance routines and guidance on visibility and ongoing machine management.

The films are designed to be complementary to existing training programmes and the content encourages operators to take responsibility for the machines they work with.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility and, it goes without saying that personnel should always be sufficiently trained to operate any specific piece of equipment safely and efficiently, but by taking a series of simple steps, materials handling machinery operators will not only greatly reduce the likelihood of being involved in an accident, but also contribute to significant reductions in equipment operating costs.

A commitment to safety management is essential at every waste site, and by encouraging MHE operators to incorporate pre-shift safety and maintenance checks into their daily routine, managers will take a big stride towards improving their company’s health and safety performance.

Throughout their shift it is essential that machinery operators:

respect site speed limits and safe working procedures;
wear correct Personal Protection Equipment
only use the correct attachments
ensure that cab doors and windows are closed where possible to minimize dust ingress inside the cab
operators should have a full understanding of the operator’s handbook and, importantly, know where the handbook is located should they need to refer to it.

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