NSC Construction and Utilities Division news Contractors Federal agencies Construction Injury prevention Construction

Coupling devices for excavator buckets: NIOSH publishes fact sheet


Photo: Dzmitry Kaprusynka/iStockphoto

Washington — A new fact sheet from NIOSH is aimed at workers who use quick coupling devices to change excavator buckets and other attachments.

Quick couplers are common in construction work. However, buckets or attachments may unintentionally fall from excavators because of improper securement of the bucket or attachment, mechanical or hydraulic failure in the coupler, or unsafe opening of the coupler by the operator, NIOSH says.

Among the agency’s tips:

  • Use quick couplers manufactured with design features and processes to prevent the unintentional release of buckets or attachments, such as models with alerting systems to signal whether the connection was successful.
  • Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for equipment when planning job tasks. For example, many manufacturers state that ground workers shouldn’t be within the swing radius/swing zone of an excavator arm.
  • Ensure machine operators always conduct visual inspections on the excavator and quick coupler before starting work. Remove from service any excavator with functional issues and tag it with a “Do not operate” sign.
  • Establish communication methods between the excavator operator and ground workers before starting work.
  • Make sure operators lower the excavator arm to the ground before exiting the cab.

NIOSH encourages employers, supervisors and equipment suppliers to “share and apply these recommended practices at the worksite.”

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)