New stability field tests for construction excavators

Edwards, David J. and Holt, Gary David (2009) New stability field tests for construction excavators. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 16 (4). pp. 337-352. ISSN 0969-9988

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Purpose – The extensive use of mini-excavators in construction presents a significant health and safety risk from their tendency to become unstable, or in the extreme to roll-over, under certain working conditions. No standard exists to specifically assess excavator stability, so the purpose of this paper is to document the development and trial of a series of practical field tests designed to achieve this.

Design/methodology/approach – Tests were designed in collaboration with a group of plant experts and competent operators. The tests were subsequently trialled by applying them to four mini-excavators, the aim being to see if these plant items could be reliably assessed in terms of their stability characteristics. Results of the study were presented to H&S experts for comment.

Findings – The tests were able to assess mini-excavator stability. For each machine, five “stability criteria” were scored thereby producing an overall score, by which mini-excavator stability could be conveniently represented.

Research implications – No previous field test research has been identified in this area. The results produced here may go some way towards developing an international standard for on-site stability tests.

Practical implications – The tests are easy to apply at the work site so long as performed by competent persons under appropriately risk-assessed and risk controlled conditions; and if disseminated to industry, could act as a means of standardising mini-excavator stability tests until such time an International Standard becomes available.

Originality/value – Research in this area is entirely novel.

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