|Inclined stairways for mobile plant
|'Slips, trips and falls' during access to or egress from mobile plant, remain, regrettably, all too frequent a category of accident in the quarrying and associated outdoor industries. Data from one of the large international quarrying companies, collected over a 10 year period, has demonstrated that this category accounts for one in every eight lost-time incidents.
Manufacturers of mobile plant have a duty of care to design their equipment to minimise these risks.
This responsibility is all the more important as the plant is used routinely in all weathers and in all ground conditions, thus access/egress surfaces are commonly wet, muddy, or frozen. This consideration applies not only to operatives and trainers requiring access to the cab and to clean the external glass areas, mirrors and camera lenses, but also all those who require access to the engine compartments, batteries, dipsticks, fluid filler points, etc.
To borrow the 'BAT' phrase commonly used in environmental legislation, & best available techniques comprise an evolving set of expectations reflecting minimum standards to be achieved by industry. Those equipment manufacturers who are sufficiently flexible to rise to the challenge of meeting their customers evolving needs, ie. BAT for health and safety, will benefit the most.
Illustrated are some generic examples of user-friendly access systems currently available in
Australia. Although most of the items of plant are large, the technology is eminently transferable to medium and small items of mobile plant typical of the majority of UK quarries, depots, railheads, wharves, etc.
The message is clear & QPA member companies have a growing expectation that access to mobile plant of
all types needs to be radically improved. Specifiers and purchasers of mobile plant can now press for
improved access to be provided as standard in the knowledge that the technology exists and is proven.
Inclined stairway access systems can now be considered to comprise 'best available techniques'.
In summary, the industry is looking to the manufacturers/suppliers of all new and re-engineered/re-built
mobile plant to:
supply inclined access stairways instead of vertical ladders
provide handrails the full length of the access stairs
provide hand-railed platforms adjacent to the cab
ensure all steps are of equal rise, including the bottom step.
Readers should note that this article is not intended to imply any form of endorsement either of
Hedweld Engineering Pty Ltd or its products featured above. Systems illustrated on this page
were demonstrated to the HSE-chaired Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee in October
The D11 images also show that all-round visibility can be affected adversely. Access designers
should avoid this limitation where possible, or include compensatory visibility aids, as required.
Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge