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The Latest Trends in Mechanical Handling Design

​The latest statistics from the Health & Safety Executive expose yet again the need to avoid manual handling and give more credence to calls for wider use of vehicle mounted cranes and other load handling devices.

The latest statistics from the Health & Safety Executive expose yet again the need to avoid manual handling and give more credence to calls for wider use of vehicle mounted cranes and other load handling devices.

The figures show that across all industries 31% of all fatal, serious and over-three-day injuries during the last reporting year were related to manual handling. This represents 37,000 people whose lives have been directly affected.

In the motor transport sector the story is even worse, with 38% of all reportable injuries related to manual handling. So while handling related injuries are significant in all industries the road transport sector has even more work to do to improve its safety record. The simplest and most effective way to reduce the risk of this type of injury is to eliminate the need for manual handling by changing the processes involved and providing employees with suitable load handling equipment.

In the road transport industry a further 35% of all reportable injuries were caused by slips, trips and falls from height. This includes falls from delivery and service vehicles. Incidents like this can be avoided by removing the need to approach or climb on a vehicle. Provision of appropriate load handling equipment is one possible solution.

While there may be a temptation to think that injuries are not going to happen there is another way of looking at the HSE figures: an accident or injury caused by manual handling or a slip, trip or fall is much more likely than one caused by fire or electric shock which have historically been taken far more seriously.

Often the simplest way to reduce the risk of an accident and resulting injury is to remove the potential cause. Providing employees with mechanical handling equipment on their vehicles is a good place to start. Manufacturers such as Penny Hydraulics continue to play their part by adding new features that promote safety and make it easier for operators to specify and install their products.

All PH cranes now incorporate full hydraulic control for even the lightest units. Hydraulic control prevents the need to access the bed of the vehicle and helps ensure smooth and precise load handling with reduced risk of the sudden and unexpected movements that can cause accidents to users and bystanders.

These features are now widely available on cranes with maximum working loads from just 200kg upwards. The use of proportional controls, another recent innovation on smaller cranes, helps to ensure precise and controlled movements which promotes even greater safety.

Remote controls are also becoming more popular. These are especially useful from a safety point of view because they reduce the need for operators to stand in close proximity of the load thereby increasing operator safety.

Two types of control are generally available. The first is attached to the crane by a length of cable known as a wander lead while the second is a wireless device that provides the user with complete autonomy, enabling them to stand in any position with the best all-round view of the working area.

Another trend in crane design is to remove weight without compromising on performance and safety. Penny Hydraulics uses its in-house advanced CAD and finite element analysis tools to re-engineer its range to reduce weight through optimised design and use of alternative materials which replace some steel components with lighter alloys. Operators can now install one of these devices with reduced impact on the overall vehicle weight to leave more carrying capacity for improved operational flexibility and productivity. Although this helps with all types of vehicle it is especially useful for those in the 3.5t and 7.5t classes where remaining within the overall weight and carrying capacity limits are always of concern to operators.

PH cranes are manufactured from the latest high quality steels, including Domex and Weldox. This means that the crane structures are high strength and durable yet lightweight, helping to reduce emissions, maximise fuel economy and maximise payload.

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