A surge of recent fatalities in the last 15 months due to forward tipping dumper trucks on UK construction sites has moved the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) to take action.

Typically dumpers have overturned when mounting spoil heaps and operators have tried and failed to jump clear. The other key danger is that site workers have been run over due to the driver having poor visibility whilst driving a fully loaded dumper.

Industry-wide meetings have taken place over the past year to draw up an action plan and the latest dumper truck meeting was held a few weeks ago in Solihull. It was attended by more than 60 client representatives, contractors, plant manufacturers, federations, regulatory bodies, plant hirers and equipment owners. CPA director Kevin Minton and CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner co-hosted the meeting.

CPA director Kevin Minton said afterwards: “Accidents and incidents involving forward tipping dumpers are caused in a number of different ways and we need a range of solutions to ensure the operator is safe and the general public is safe. The industry forum generated action points from which we can help to reduce the risk of accidents occurring, improve management of sites, commit to best practice and enhance awareness of operatives and operators.”

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “We have made a tremendous amount of progress in a short space of time and have strong support from across the industry to work together to enhance the safety of forward tipping dumpers. There is a need to engage wider industry and we are looking to implement an awareness campaign such as the provision of a website to find more information about forward tipping dumpers.”

An agreement was reached on seven principles that will be used as the basis of ‘an action plan to take forward’. These relate to visibility, stability, training, competence, spoil heaps, exclusion and equipment selection.

The CPA has already produced a safe-use guidance document, aimed principally at operators for refresher training purposes, and it was agreed at the forum that an operational good practice guide on forward tipping dumpers would be produced through the Strategic Forum Plant Safety Group, administered by the CPA.

Several working groups are being formulated to discuss how to raise the bar in the seven areas to be focused on. One group will provide a supplementary document to the Plant Safety Group’s work on ground conditions by providing guidance and recommendations for the travelling of dumpers on spoil heaps. There are those who will hope that it says simply: ‘just don’t’.

While enclosed cabs and the use of seatbelts were discussed at last week’s meeting, it seems that the powers that be are not yet ready to call an industry-wide ban on open-cab dumpers of six-tonnes and above. Many had hoped that the result might be a UK specification ensuring all dumpers had enclosed cabs to keep drivers safe in the event of an overturn, or a ban on driving dumpers onto spoil heaps. Those that have experienced a fatality within their company have already adopted these measures as policy on their own initiative.

Kelsey has been helping customers in the hire of plant equipment since 1994, with a strong focus on providing you with the information you need to use your hire correctly and safely. If you need help and advice or a bit of a refresher on all matters pertaining to use of your dumper hire, just give us a call, we’d be happy to advise.