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UKMHA issues safety advice following ruling on fatal accident

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The UK Material Handling Association (UKMHA), the trade body representing all aspects of the UK’s material handling industry, has reiterated its advice to the industry on the importance of following proper procedures relating to tyre wear and inflation.

This follows the conclusion of a court case in which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) successfully prosecuted a concrete company after an agency worker suffered fatal injuries when a tyre he was inflating exploded.

Dudley Magistrates’ Court was told how the contractor suffered fatal injuries while using an air hose/compressed air to inflate the tyre of an articulated wheel loader.

An investigation by the HSE into the incident, on 28 March 2019, found that Anytime Concrete (GB) Ltd failed to have in place a safe system of work for inflation of the multi-piece split rim assembly wheels on the articulated wheel loader. The compressed air system had not been subject to regular and thorough examination and testing by a competent person.

Anytime Concrete (GB), of Kelvin Way, West Bromwich, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £6,666.00 and ordered to pay costs of £4,522.40.

David Goss, Technical Director, UKMHA said: “Inflated and partially inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy. Especial caution is required with pneumatic tyres on multi-piece rings because displacement or failure of a wheel component can cause sudden explosive decompression of the tyre leading to serious injury or death to anyone in the trajectory zone.

“Before inflating a new or significantly underinflated tyre a risk assessment should consider whether a tyre restraining device is required. But in all cases the airline hose should be long enough to enable the operator to stand outside a 45° cone from the side wall, which is the likely blast path.

“This accident is a sad reminder that a safe system of work must be in place for this kind of activity, and that employers have a duty to ensure that all work equipment is correctly inspected and maintained. The company concerned had a duty of care to identify and manage the risks involved.

“The HSE and BITA have both issued extensive guidance on the correct procedures for this type of work and we would urge all operators to familiarise themselves with the guidelines to ensure this kind of incident is not repeated.”

Guidance is provided in:

  • HSE INDG433, Safety during tyre inflation in motor vehicle repair, and,
  • BITA GN67, Multi-Piece Pneumatic Tyred Wheels – Inspection, Maintenance & Repairs

Related guidance of interest includes:

  • HSE HSG261, Health and safety in motor vehicle repair and associated industries
  • BITA GN28, Thorough Examination and safety inspection of industrial lift trucks
  • BITA GN50, Tyre tread wear
  • BITA GN63, Solid tyre fitting guidance
  • BITA GN64, Guidance for the press fitting of solid tyres

BITA Guidance Note 28 formed part of the theme of National Forklift Safety Day 2021.

The campaign focused on the importance of accredited Thorough Examination. The campaign coincided with the publication of an updated BITA GN28, which is the industry approved guideline on Thorough Examination and Safety Inspection of Industrial Lift Trucks in accordance with the provisions of LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations) 1998 and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations) 1998.

UKMHA’s recommendation is that Thorough Examinations on lift trucks should be completed by a CFTS-accredited Competent Person. The CFTS mark is a guarantee that a lift truck will be examined carefully, and that key components such as brakes and steering will also be checked along with the lifting mechanism.

“All MHE must receive a Thorough Examination at least once a year. However, examinations could be required more often depending on the type of truck and the application,” added Mr Goss.

“The process is governed by regulations enforced by the HSE. These state that Thorough Examination of industrial lift trucks is required under LOLER 1998, which covers lifting equipment, and safety inspections of other safety-related items, such as brakes, steering and tyres, are required under PUWER 1998.”

Regular inspections forming part of a preventive maintenance scheme or scheduled service do not meet the legal requirements for a Thorough Examination. Thorough Examinations can only be carried out by people deemed competent, and these people are under a legal obligation to report dangerous defects to the authorities.

Further information on the campaign can be found on the National Forklift Safety Day website (www.nationalforkliftsafetyday.co.uk). The portal also hosts a wealth of information on the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, both of which remain relevant to good lift truck safety.

For more information on the UKMHA, visit www.ukmha.org.uk

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