Case study analysis of construction excavator H&S overturn incidents

Edwards, David J. and Holt, Gary David (2010) Case study analysis of construction excavator H&S overturn incidents. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, 17 (5). pp. 493-511. ISSN 0969-9988

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Purpose – Construction plant and equipment harbour significant health and safety hazards. One particular item, the mini-excavator, presents a hazard from its inherent instability and tendency to overturn during use. The purpose of this paper is to investigate turnover incidents to observe prominent factors and contribute to development of best practice guidance for improving health and safety relating to mini-excavator use.

Design/methodology/approach – Comprehensive documentary data from eight case study incidents, along with anecdotal data from a further three, were qualitatively analysed in terms of: machine weight, machine activity, ground type/topography, operator competence, type of overturn, damage to property, and injury to person(s). Results were presented to experts in the field for comment and conclusions/recommendations accordingly developed.

Findings – Observed prominent casual factors include: inadequate assessment of risk and non-adherence to safe working practice, working on poor ground, and working on inclined surfaces. The use of sealed operator cabs and proprietary seat restraint mechanisms seem to mitigate risk of personal injury to operators during overturn incidents. A need for cyclic training to reiterate good operator and banksman practice is emphasised, while construction managers should also be aware of the risks, and help implement risk controls.

Research limitations/implications – Findings will inform construction plant management research generally, and the subject of mechanised workplace transport stability specifically.

Practical implications – Best practice protocol will inform health and safety management of mini-excavators at the workplace.

Originality/value – Academic research into mini-excavator stability is embryonic; this paper furthers evolving knowledge in the field.

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