The Health and Safety Executive has urged the NFU to remind its members of the dangers of using telehandlers fitted with a grain bucket to drive in fence posts.
Although telehandlers are versatile pieces of equipment, they do have limitations and are not designed to be used in this way.
The HSE is advising that all users should only operate the machinery within the confines of manufacturer instructions. Purpose-designed post driving equipment is widely available and this should be used where mechanical assistance is required.
Most incidents occur when someone has been holding the fence post in close proximity to the machine while the bucket is lowered onto the post by the telehandler.
This could result in the person being struck or run over by the telehandler, or struck by the bucket if there is unexpected movement. Controls for locking pins can also be inadvertently operated in the cab resulting in the bucket becoming detached, as the action will tend to lift the bucket out of the attachment mechanism.
It's essential that buckets and other attachments are securely held on the machine, irrespective of the work being undertaken.
Controls for locking pins are often shared with the auxiliary service that provides a supply to hydraulically operated attachments (e.g. a bale grab). Operation can be switched between the locking pins and the auxiliary service by a manual valve; when switched to the auxiliary service the locking pins are unable to move.
Telehandlers are usually provided with a separate switch in the cab that electrically disables the control for the locking pins and auxiliary service. Using either, or both, of these devices should prevent the pins from being inadvertently released.
To reduce the risk of injury, telehandler operators should always follow safe working practices when operating the machine. In particular they should:
- Understand the function and operation of all the controls
- Know the correct procedures to secure and release buckets and other attachments
- Understand and follow the information provided in the operators manual
- Be aware of tasks for which the machine and attachments are suitable
- Be properly trained in accordance with the HSE Approved Code of practice L117 Rider operated lift trucks - operator training and safe use.
Further information about the safe use of agricultural machinery can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/index.htm.