Mobile Work Equipment Legislation
The mobile work equipment Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 Part III, Regulations 25 to 30, require additional precautions relating to work equipment while traveling from one location to another or where it does work while moving. All appropriate Regulations of PUWER 98 will also apply to mobile equipment as it does to all work equipment; for example, dangerous moving parts of the engine would be covered by Part II Regulations 10, 11, and 12 of PUWER 98. If the equipment is designed primarily for travel on public roads, the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations will normally be sufficient to comply with PUWER 98.
Mobile equipment would normally move on wheels, tracks, rollers, skids, etc. Mobile equipment may be self-propelled, towed, or remote-controlled and may incorporate attachments. Pedestrian-controlled work equipment, such as a lawnmower, is not covered by Part III.
Employees carried on mobile work equipment – Regulation 25
No employee may be carried on mobile work equipment:
- unless it is suitable for carrying persons;
- Unless it incorporates features to reduce risks as low as is reasonably practicable, including risks from wheels and tracks.
Where there is a significant risk of falling materials, falling object protective structures (FOPS) must be fitted.
Rolling over mobile work equipment
Where there is a risk of overturning, it must be minimized by:
- stabilizing the equipment;
- fitting a structure so that it only falls on its side;
- fitting a structure that gives sufficient clearance for anyone being carried if it turns over further – rollover protective structure (ROPS);
- a device giving comparable protection;
- fitting a suitable restraining system for people if there is a risk of being crushed by rolling over.
Self-propelled work equipment
Where self-propelled work equipment may involve risks while in motion, it shall have:
- facilities to prevent unauthorized starting;
- facilities to minimize the consequences of collision (with multiple rail-mounted equipments);
- a device for braking and stopping;
- emergency facilities for braking and stopping, in the event of failure of the main facility, which has readily accessible or automatic controls (where safety constraints so require);
- devices fitted to improve vision (where the driver’s vision is inadequate);
- appropriate lighting fitted or otherwise, it shall be made sufficiently safe for its use (if used at night or in dark places);
- Anything carried or towed constitutes a fire hazard liable to endanger employees (particularly, if escape is difficult such as from a tower crane), appropriate fire-fighting equipment carried, unless it is sufficiently close by.
Rollover and falling-object protection (ROPS and FOPS)
Rollover protective structures (ROPS) are becoming much more affordable and available for most types of mobile equipment with a high risk of turning over. Their use spread across most developed countries and even some less well-developed areas. A ROPS is a cab or frame that provides a safe zone for the vehicle operator in the event of a rollover.
The ROPS frame must pass a series of static and dynamic crash tests. These tests examine the ability of the ROPS to withstand various loads to see if the protective zone around the operator remains intact in an overturn.
A homemade bar attached to a tractor axle or simple shelter from the sun or rain cannot protect the operator if the equipment overturns.
The ROPS must meet International Standards such as ISO 3471:1994. All mobile equipment safeguards should comply with the essential health and safety requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations but need not carry a CE marking.
ROPS must also be correctly installed, strictly following the manufacturers’ instructions and using the correct strength bolts and fixings. They should never be modified by drilling, cutting, welding, or other means, which may seriously weaken the structure.
Falling-object protective structures (FOPS) are required where there is a significant risk of objects falling on the equipment operator or other authorized person using the mobile equipment. Canopies that protect against falling objects (FOPS) must be properly designed and certified. Front-loaders work in woods or construction sites near scaffolding or buildings under construction and high bay storage areas, these all being locations where there is a risk of falling objects. Purchasers of equipment should check that any canopies fitted are FOPS. The user should never modify ROPS to fit a canopy without consultation with the manufacturers.
ROPS provides some safety during an overturn, but only when operatives are confined to the protective zone of the ROPS. So, where ROPS are fitted, a suitable restraining system must be provided for all seats. The use of seat restraints could avoid accidents where drivers are thrown from machines, through windows or doors, or inside the cab. In agriculture and forestry, 50% of overturning accidents occur on slopes less than 10° and 25% on slopes 5° or less. This means that seat restraints should be used most of the time that the vehicle is being operated.