Guidance onLifting Operationsin ConstructionWhen Using ExcavatorsWorking in Partnership

1.IntroductionThe use of excavators for lifting operations, particularly on construction sites, hasbecome more common over the last few years. Excavators and backhoes are designedfor rapid earth moving and are not designed for lifting operations as their principalfunction. When planning a lifting operation, you should firstly consider whether anexcavator is the most appropriate machine, taking into account the type of lift and theduration of the task.The purpose of this document is to set out precautions and procedures that should betaken into account when planning and carrying out lifting operations with excavatorsand other types of earth moving equipment (backhoe and loaders) to enable the workto be done safely and in accordance with your legal duties.2.Particular Hazards Associated with Lifting with ExcavatorsThe use of an excavator or backhoe for lifting creates additional hazards for personnelin the vicinity. Under normal circumstances, personnel are kept away from the workingarea around the bucket of an excavator, as this is considered to be a hazardous area.Where the excavator is used for object handling however, the slinger has to be in thedanger area in order to hook the load on to the hooking device. This puts the slinger atrisk of being struck by the load, bucket or excavator arm if the excavator moves withoutwarning.One common incident of this type is where the excavator slews rapidly, for examplewhen the operator catches the cuff of his coat on the left hand joystick, and the groundworker is struck by the bucket or dipper arm or crushed between the dipper arm and afixed object. Injuries are usually severe in these cases. Excavator operators andslingers should be made aware of these dangers and effective communications mustalways be maintained between slinger and operator. The excavator operator shouldalways make use of the safety lever (safety armrest) whenever the slinger is in thedanger area.Traveling with a suspended load is particularly hazardous. The pre-lifting riskassessment should ensure that the hazards associated with this operation are fullyconsidered, particularly the presence of personnel adjacent to the machine’s travelpath.3.Lifting of Persons with ExcavatorsExcavators should not be used under any circumstances for the lifting of persons asthey are primarily designed for excavating with a bucket and consequently are capableof operating speeds and movements which make them totally unsuitable for the liftingof persons.Access to height on construction sites should be by machines designed for the purposeof lifting persons such as MEWPs, mast climbing work platforms, suspended accessplatforms or passenger/goods hoists, or by the use of scaffolds. In exceptionalcircumstances and where it is not reasonably practicable to achieve access by lesshazardous means, a suitable crane with a man-riding basket may be used inaccordance with Clause 23.1 of BS 7121:2006 - Code of practice for safe use of cranes– Part 1: General.2

4.Planning of Lifting Operations with ExcavatorsRegulation 8 of LOLER requires lifting operations to be properly planned, appropriatelysupervised and carried out in a safe manner, and this includes lifting by earth movingmachinery. The competent person (See LOLER ACOP and Guidance para. 220 –223)should first carry out a risk assessment, which will include ensuring that the earth movingmachinery is suitable for the task, that adequate lifting accessories are available and theground conditions are suitable. The lifting accessories, including quick hitches, should besuitable for the load and marked with their safe working load. The risk assessment will alsoaddress the need to segregate the lifting operation from other persons on site. Based onthis risk assessment, a written method statement setting out the safe operating procedureto be followed should be prepared and communicated to all personnel involved in the liftingoperation.NOTE: For employers with 5 or more employees, the significant findings of the risk assessment mustbe recorded. The significant findings should include who is at risk, why they are at risk and how thatrisk is controlled. A comprehensive method statement could include this information.Special attachments for lifting (or other uses) should be compatible with the machine andcoupling means (quick-hitch) to which they are being attached. A competent person shouldverify that the combination is designed to take the load in this manner.Further guidance on planning lifting operations is given in BS 7121-1:2006.5.Lifting OperationsBefore lifting operations begin it is essential that all personnel involved are fully briefedon the significant findings of the risk assessment, the method statement and their individualroles in carrying out the task.The supervisor should ensure that persons are kept well away from the lifting area, and inparticular that there is no one working below the lift, for example in a trench. Personnelshould wear hi-visibility clothing and other appropriate PPE. Excavator operators mustnever move the machine or load until they have satisfied themselves that theslinger/signaler and any other persons associated with the lift have all moved away fromthe danger area, to a position of safety.The slinger or operator should check the lifting accessories, including the lifting point,before use to ensure they are not damaged or worn. Any defective lifting accessoriesshould be removed from service immediately. Chain slings should not have any distortedlinks or components, hooks should not be bent and the safety clip should be in workingcondition. Fibre slings should be rejected when damaged, and in any case when the outercovering is worn to the extent that the inner cores are visible.Where the hooking device (the point on the machine designed for connection of the load) isnot part of the bucket, the bucket should (where possible, and unless the operatorinstructions specify otherwise) be removed in order to improve visibility and reduce theweight being lifted. If the bucket is retained, then the weight of both the bucket and quickhitch has to be added to the load when determining whether the load is within the ratedcapacity.When attaching lifting slings to the hooking device or lifting point care should be taken toensure that the slings and their attachments are able to hang free at all times. Attachmentusing a shackle may limit rotation if, for example, a pipe suspended from the slings is to beturned end for end (See Fig. 1). Fig. 2 shows the addition of a swivel to overcome thisproblem. Similarly, if the quick hitch is tilted backwards and/or the dipper arm is raised, themaster link of the sling and any attachments may be put into bending or twisting – possiblyleading to damage or failure (See Figs. 3 & 4). These issues may reduce the height towhich a load may be lifted to less than that indicated in the machine’s rated object handlingcapacity table.The excavator operator should ensure that the acoustic/visual warning device indicating theload moment, is switched on prior to any lifting operation.3

NOTE: Advice on the planning and carrying out of lifting operations is given in “Lifting Operations: Anexplanation of LOLER” published by Construction Industry Press.Figure 1 - Master link rotationrestricted to approx 70 Figure 2. – Swivel allows unrestrictedrotation but reduces availableheadroom BadPracticeFigure 3 – Hitch tilted backwards withmaster link subject to bendingFigure 4 – Hitch tilted backwards withmaster link subject to twisting GoodPracticeFigure 5 – Chain and master link canhang freely without obstruction6.Excavator Requirements when Used for LiftingThe design of earth moving machinery for lifting (object handling) is covered by theEuropean standard BS EN 474 parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 (see bibliography).Any earth-moving machine designed for object handling should have a rated objecthandling capacity table available inside the cab. An example is shown in Fig. 6. If a rated4

object handling capacity table is not available then the machine should not be used forobject handling.NOTE: Handling attachments (e.g. grab) that do not require the assistance of a person for hooking orguiding are considered as normal earth moving operations and do not require warning devices and arated capacity table.An earth-moving machine used for lifting operations must be fitted with a load hookingdevice. This may be mounted on the dipper, the quick hitch or the bucket. If the loadhooking device is a hook then this should have a clip or other device which prevents a slingslipping off the hook. Many quick-hitches provide a load hooking device in the design of thehitch.If the rated lifting capacity for an excavator or the backhoe portion of a backhoe-loader isgreater than 1 tonne (or the overturning moment is greater than 40000Nm) then themachine must be fitted with:a) a boom lowering control device on the raising (main) boom cylinder(s) and whichmeets the requirements of ISO 8643:1997 andb) an acoustic or visual warning device which indicates to the operator when theobject handling capacity or corresponding load moment is reachedNOTE: Loaders and the loader portion of a backhoe/loader do not require a boom lowering controldevice or acoustic/ visual warning devices.NOTE: Where a risk assessment shows that there is a significant risk of overloading and/oroverturning on machines with a rated capacity of 1 tonne or less, a Rated Capacity Indicator may berequired. (See LOLER ACOP and Guidance paragraph 122).Suitable slings must be available to attach the load to the excavator. Slings and other liftingaccessories should be CE marked, and marked with the safe working load.7.Training and Competency AssessmentExcavator drivers and slingers should be adequately trained and assessed to undertaketheir roles in lifting operations. This training is additional to the training required foroperating the machine as an excavator. Suitable guidance is available in BS 7121 parts 1and 3.NOTE: Prior to 2008, the CPCS category for excavator operation does not cover lifting operations.The current CPCS category has been amended to include lifting objects and will apply to all thosetaking the practical and theory tests from 1st August 2008.NOTE: For existing CPCS excavator card holders, an additional module of approximately half a day’sduration, on lifting with excavators is in preparation.8.Pre-use Checks, Inspections and MaintenanceAll excavators, backhoes and front end loaders require pre-use checks, inspectionsand maintenance to ensure that they do not deteriorate to an extent where the operator orother persons are put at significant risk.Pre-use (Daily) ChecksPre-use checks are normally carried out by the operator who should have been trainedand assessed to carry out this task.Pre-use checks should be recorded as having been carried out (for example on atimesheet) and a defect reporting system should be in place to ensure that any defectsare rectified promptly.Weekly InspectionsWeekly inspections may be carried out by the operator if they have been assessed astrained and competent. A record that the inspection has been carried out, together with5

a note of any deficiencies should be made. A management system for eliminatingdeficiencies should be in place.MaintenanceMaintenance should be carried out at least at the intervals required by themanufacturer’s manual. The frequency of maintenance may be increased by factorssuch as usage and environment. Personnel undertaking maintenance should havebeen trained and assessed to carry out this task.All maintenance activities should be formally recorded.9.Thorough Examination and TestAn excavator used for object handling is regarded as lifting equipment and requiresthorough examination by a competent person at least every 12 months.* (See LOLER Reg.9). An excavator which is never used for object handling (for example, because it is notequipped with a load hooking device) does not require thorough examination but stillrequires regular inspection under PUWER which will be to a similar standard.Front end loaders, not modified or adapted for lifting operations, do not require thoroughexamination under LOLER, but still require regular inspection under PUWER. If the loaderis used for object handling it will require thorough examination under LOLER at least every12 months*.A report of thorough examination of lifting equipment is not required where the employerhas an EC Declaration of Conformity dated within the last 12 months.Where a quick hitch is permanently mounted on an excavator then the thoroughexamination for the excavator will also cover the quick hitch. If the quick hitch is movedfrom one machine to another it is classed as an accessory and should be thoroughlyexamined every 6 months.Slings, loose hooks, chain slings, polyester slings, shackles etc. are classed as liftingaccessories and must be thoroughly examined every 6 months.Buckets with integrated hooks/lifting eyes are also classed as lifting accessories and shouldbe thoroughly examined every 6 months.*In the absence of a written examination scheme drawn up by a competent person10. BibliographyBS EN 474-1:2006, Earth-moving machinery. Safety - Part 1: General requirementsBS EN 474-3:2006, Earth-moving machinery. Safety - Part 3: Requirements for loadersBS EN 474-4:2006, Earth-moving machinery. Safety - Part 4: Requirements for backhoeloadersBS EN 474-5:2006, Earth-moving machinery. Safety - Part 5: Requirements for hydraulicexcavators.BS 7121-1:2006, Code of practice for safe use of cranes — Part 1: GeneralBS 7121-3:2000, Code of practice for safe use of cranes — Part 3: Mobile cranesISO 8643:1997, Safety of earth-moving machinery. Specification for hydraulic excavatorand backhoe loader boom lowering control deviceISO 10567:1992, Safety of earth-moving machinery. Methods for the calculation andverification of