Taking charge of mobile equipment safety

Lafarge has a worldwide fleet of some 6000 machines, and is seeking to maximise their safety by fitting their new loaders with convex mirrors, reversing alarms, and rear cameras.Lafarge Aggregates UK manufacturing head Miles Dobson said more than 70% of the company’s articulated hauler and wheel loader fleets are made up of Volvos, the latter ranging from L90F to the L220F.“F-Series wheel loaders are also now being specified with GPS monitoring – and from 2009 they will also be fitted with rear passive radar systems,” Dobson said. “We want our people to be safe wherever in the world they are.”Geraint Morris, global vice president of health and safety at Lafarge’s Aggregates & Concrete division, said mobile equipment presents a significant risk, [and] operators needed to have all-round visibility and be able to gain access to their machines safely.“But the additional expense is minimal in relation to the overall cost of a machine,” he said. “Operators appreciate the investment in their safety.”Morris said working with Volvo on machine safety has led to innovations such as powered access and walkway systems for small excavators in the 20-tonne class. “But providing safe machines is not going to stop accidents on its own. The majority of incidents are caused by people’s behaviour – not the machines,” Dobson said. “So we need to convince our people to modify their behaviour to adapt to the situation they are in. You can fit mirrors, but for them to be effective you have to convince operators of the need to use them.”Morris said Lafarge’s safety initiatives are mostly about changing behavior patterns.“A lot of incidents are down to momentary lapses of concentration or rushing to get things done,” he said. “We need to create a culture that leaves sufficient time to complete the job properly while maintaining focus and being efficient. It’s our job to make it easier to do the right thing.”Lafarge has an annual turnover of €17.6 billion ($A35 billion) and employs more than 90,000 people in 76 countries across more than 2000 production sites.

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