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“We can’t afford any more accidents”

A year ago, an employee lost four fingers when a bucket became detached in mid-air. The company immediately purchased a locking safety system from Engcon.

The excavator was in the process of being loaded onto a truck, when suddenly the bucket fell off. “All the rules were followed, but it emerged that the bucket had not been properly locked in place. It fell off above the truck driver, who was standing directing the machine into position on the platform. Four fingers on one of his hands were completely severed. But it could have been much worse,” says Bjørn Hetlevik, Plant and Project Manager at Sartor Maskin AS. After the incident in autumn 2017, the company decided to purchase Q-Safe quick hitches and QSC locking systems from Engcon.

Work safety

“We can’t afford any more accidents. We want all our employees to be safe at work,” says Hetlevik. Q-Safe means that it is only possible to change tools when the bucket is resting on the ground. A sensor detects whether the tool is on the ground, and only then is it possible to unlock and change it. Until the tool has been locked in place, an alarm sounds and a strobe light flashes. It is also not possible to operate the boom and slew functions. “I am sure that everyone who operates an excavator has experienced a bucket or some other tool falling off. I myself lost a bucket in mid-air when there was a man standing only a metre or two away. It sent a chill down my spine when that happened. We feel much safer now – Q-safe guarantees that the tool is locked in place before we can lift it,” says Stein Fagerholt, plant operator at Sartor.  

Working envelope

He is working on a road widening scheme near the town centre on the island of Sotra, near Bergen. A 900-metre stretch of road has to be widened and supplied with a new pedestrian and cycle path and a new bus stop. So far today, he has switched between two different buckets around 8 or 9 times. The buckets weigh some 500 kg. Schoolchildren, cyclists and motorists pass close by on the narrow, old road. Up to now, it has been necessary to press a number of different buttons in order to disconnect the tool. Which buttons you have to press can vary depending on which tool you want to disconnect or what type of machine you are using. It can be a challenge to remember everything, particularly if you are switching from one machine to another. Engcon has developed a brand new solution for this, known as Quick Hitch Standard Control (QSC). With QSC, you have a simple and straightforward control panel inside the machine. The same panel can be used, regardless of which tools you are using. “Look, the panel is located to the right of the operator and can be easily controlled with one hand. By pressing two buttons next to each other, you either unlock or lock the hitch,” explains Hetlevik.

“Safety first”

Veidekke Construction is one of Sartor Maskin’s clients: “It’s great that Sartor has now adopted a safety system which ensures that the buckets cannot be dropped.” For us, it means that our subcontractors are thinking about safety. The most important thing we do in our sector is value creation, at the same time as ensuring that everyone gets home from work safe and sound. As contractors, we employ procedures that are intended to intercept dangers, yet we are completely dependent on those we collaborate with focusing on safety and technical aspects within their specific fields,” says Ørjan Hatlevik, Construction Manager at Veidekke. Sartor has installed both QSC and Q-safe on the most recent excavators they have purchased. “Changing tools is one of the most dangerous activities you perform on an excavator. For us, it is very important to adopt a safety-first approach,” says Hetlevik.

“I am sure that everyone who operates an excavator has experienced a bucket or some other tool falling off. I myself lost a bucket in mid-air when there was a man standing only a metre or two away. It sent a chill down my spine when that happened. We feel much safer now – Q-safe guarantees that the tool is locked in place before we can lift it.”

Stein Arve Fagerholt, Sartor Maskin

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