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Vehicle Selection

All mobile plant and ancillary vehicles used on sites shall be safe and suitable for use under the working conditions in which they will be employed. All mobile plant and vehicles shall comply with any relevant statutory requirements and shall be properly operated and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating recommendations and all relevant company requirements.

Definition of Heavy/Light Vehicles

Any mobile plant or vehicle which operates on site shall be classified as either ‘Heavy Plant’ or ‘Ancillary Vehicle’.

Examples of categories of plant/vehicles:

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Some plant or vehicles may need to be re-classified according to their size and the operations that they perform i.e. small front loading dump trucks, mini-excavators etc

Other plant or vehicles not listed above shall be identified and classified according to their size and the operations they perform on site.

The classification of each item of mobile plant or vehicle on site shall be specified in the Site Vehicle Rules.

Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance

Prior to the operation on site of any mobile plant or vehicles, a competent person shall assess the plant / vehicle to ensure it meets the requirements of the Quarry Operator’s Mobile Plant and Vehicle Specification.

All mobile plant and ancillary vehicles shall be included in the scheme for the systematic inspection, maintenance and testing of plant and vehicles required by regulation 12 of the Quarries Regulations 1999. Contractors or hired plant should be included in the scheme.

Examination and tests of plant and vehicles shall be carried out by a appointed person as defined in your management systems. Scheme documentation shall record when inspections are carried out and by whom and record details of any significant defects Safe Vehicles found and remedial action taken.

Instructions to drivers concerning plant and vehicle checks and the reporting of defects shall be specified in the Site Vehicle Rules. Inspections should be carried out on the machine and it should be suitably recorded in a vehicle log book or checklist. The checks should include items subject to damage or wear, fluid levels, safety devices and the defects recorded and reported.

Safety critical defects must be reported immediately to the appropriate Supervisor or Manager to determine the serviceability of the machine.

Vehicles and Visibility

The size, weight and power of mobile machinery used in surface mining presents significant hazards to people and equipment in its area of operation. A major reason for these hazards is the operator’s restricted view of the surroundings and consequent range of blind spots in which people and objects can be hidden from sight. Many vehicles have substantial blind spots, not only immediately behind the vehicle, but also alongside and immediately in front of it, without suitable visibility aids fitted.

There are also substantial blind spots on dozers, wheeled loading shovels and excavators. Light vehicles and / or pedestrians are at risk of being run over if they are in the operator’s blind spot.

To manoeuvre safely the driver needs to be able to see all around the vehicle whether it be large or small. The visibility must be such that the vehicle can be used in complete safety for both the driver and any exposed person. Improvement in visibility is achieved by fitting appropriate aids such as extra (convex) mirrors and CCTV to give adequate visibility to the front, sides and rear and work place layout. As a guide the operator should be able to see a 1 metre high object 1 metre away from any danger point of a vehicle and be able to detect the presence of other vehicles and pedestrians in their intended line of travel when moving off or when reversing.

It is intended that CoalPro will produce a further guidance document on ‘All Round Vision’.

Seat Restraints

Site vehicles and mobile plant have many safety features; few are as easy, as basic or as important as seat belts. A Seat belt is designed to secure the occupant of a vehicle against harmful movement that may result from a collision, roll-over or a sudden stop. Using seat belts in our personal vehicles has become second nature as it is mandatory (it is the law) to wear them on the public highway. When it comes to site vehicles and mobile plant, seat belt use should also be second nature. The Site Vehicle Rules should specify that seat belts, where fitted, must be worn whenever the operator is seated in the cab.

Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS)

The structures main purpose is to provide operator protection in the event of a machine roll over. Most Earthmoving machines have a built-in ROPS structure but some ancillary vehicles have to have a ROPS fitted if they are to be used in areas where there is a risk of the vehicle overturning. The decision will need to be based on an assessment.

An employee of a contractor was killed when the 4x4 road vehicle he was driving overturned on a haul road at a quarry. Although the operator was thrown clear during the incident, the roof of the vehicle collapsed. The HSE released a Safety Notice – Rollover risk associated with the use of road vehicles in off-road applications in quarries.

Falling Objects Protection (FOPS)

The structures main purpose is to provide operator protection in the event of objects falling on to the cab. In the case of surface mining this is more likely to be a loose rock falling from the face and hitting the cab or breaking the windows. Earthmoving machines will not be supplied with FOPS, so this will have to be specified where there is a risk of falling material. Typically this might be coaling or coal cleaning machines that have to operate close to an excavation face e.g. within 10 meters of the face.

Brake Testing

The Quarries Regulations 1999 and Approved Codes of Practice and Guidance, require the operator to make Vehicle Rules that include cross-references to the scheme for inspection and maintenance of plant. The Guidance, Appendix 4, paragraph 14, requires that a suitable inspection scheme be in place to ensure vehicle brakes are kept in good condition at all times.

In practice, a typical service brake test regime would consist of: a simple driver stopping / instrumented test, or stall test. Carried out either per shift or daily; and an instrumented test at an interval of between 1 and 3 months carried out by a competent person.

The document, Guidance on Brake Testing for Rubber-tyred Vehicles, Operating in Quarries, Opencast Coal Sites and Mines, prepared by QNJAC and published by EPIC (now MPQC) and OPERC, explains the brake ratio method of brake testing and gives a step-by-step guide on how to correlate braking performance with actual site conditions and how to design and put in place a suitable brake test regime.

Breakdown and Recovery

The breakdown of any plant and vehicles on site can leave the plant or operator in a hazardous environment. Consideration to the immediate safety of the operator and the vehicle shall be given prior to the subsequent recovery operation.

A risk assessment should be carried out by a competent person and consider the following.

The position of the stranded vehicle should be considered with regard to other traffic movements and site hazards.

  • Slopes and gradients
  • Blind Corners
  • Brows of hills
  • High walls
  • Tight areas
  • Tipping operations
  • Excavations and haul roads
  • Stability

Where a broken-down vehicle causes an obstruction to any roadway or active area provision should be made to safely cordon off the vehicle and divert the site traffic around the obstacle until the vehicle can be safely recovered.

  1. Broken down or stranded vehicles must be reported immediately to a Supervisor who must assess the situation.
  2. When a stranded vehicle has been recovered, it must not be returned to work until it has been inspected for defects.
  3. The risks of an unplanned movement of a vehicle must be considered during all vehicle recovery operations and suitable safety control measures must be implemented. If stranded on a slope, additional physical control measures must be used to prevent the vehicle being set in motion e.g. chocks, blocks, overburden or other physical means of restraint.
  4. Towing of vehicles should be avoided if repairs can be affected quickly and safely.