health and safety advice

Health and Safety Advice for Plant Operators

A guest post by Amelia Davis-Pogson of PK Safety – providing health and safety advice for plant operators.

As it was #InternationalCatDay we have gone down the lines of CATERPILLAR diggers, we thought we would share our health and safety advice when working on these machines.
A construction excavator is a common sight on the majority of construction sites. This piece of heavy machinery is fundamental for such duties as demolition, digging and trenching. Other common uses include lifting and transportation of materials.

According to the HSE, most fatal and serious injuries involving excavators occur when the excavator is:
• Moving – and strikes a pedestrian, particularly while reversing;
• Slewing – trapping a person between the excavator and a fixed structure or vehicle; or
• Working – when the moving bucket or other attachment strikes a pedestrian or when the bucket / attachment inadvertently falls from the excavator.

Strategic Risk Assessments and Method Statements are the critical starting point for development of a safe system of work and should be undertaken by competent persons. Firstly, the correct type of excavator should be selected based on what activities it will be required to undertake.. Suitable controls should be implemented to eliminate / reduce the risk associated with the work . PPE should always be a last resort.


Check what your company policy is regarding the equipment you are working on. This is hugely important because different companies have different policies regarding the site. Leaving the door open or having it closed when working on heavy machinery can be the difference between good and poor communication.

Control of Plant and Pedestrians
The first rule to consider is to keep plant and pedestrians apart. Sites should have a robust traffic management plan that sets out the following (not exhaustive):

  • Segregated pedestrian walkways including crossing points and refuges where necessary
  • Suitable Signage
  • Rules for engaging plant as a pedestrian (rules to follow when approaching plant etc.)
  • Trained banksman / vehicle pedestrian Marshals
  • Plant storage and security (key control etc.)

Competence is also a critical issue when operating plant. On most construction sites the benchmark standard is the “Construction Plant Certification Scheme” (CPCS). This details what category of plant the card holder can operate. Remember to look for the additional category “Lifting Operations” when using the excavator as a crane . Some sites require all plant operators to also have a critical safety worker medical to confirm that they are medically fit to operate plant.

Also consider plant familiarisation training to as plant can sometimes operate in slightly different ways and the operator might require some training on these elements of the plants operation.
A good induction process on site is also critical as this is the time when the site can give operatives a clear briefing on site rules, safe plant operations and the traffic management arrangements on site, including the need to stick to designated pedestrian routes.

Finally, sites must monitor, adapt and re-enforce plant and pedestrian safety on site and ensure that rules and procedures are complied with at all times in the interests of personal safety.
Be aware of working plant at all times and follow safe systems of work implemented on site.

About PK Safety

PK Safety have been supplying PPE for over 30 years. We want to make choosing and using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and workwear easy and painless. That’s why we believe strongly in offering the very best quality for the best price.