Automatic quick hitch safest for operators
Choosing machinery with a fully automatic quick hitch is the way to go to ensure safety and compliance with new state regulations, leading equipment company JCB says.
There are different types of quick hitches on the market. There is the manual quick hitch which requires an operator to get out of the cab to manually latch on the attachment and insert the safety pin. A semi-automatic quick hitch allows installation of the attachment from the cab but requires the operator to manually insert the safety pin. A fully automatic quick hitch, on the other hand, allows the operators to switch attachments entirely from the cab.
JCB Construction Equipment Australia NSW State Manager Phil Withell says quick hitches are essential to the construction industry as it is an ultimate time-saving feature but safety must be top of mind when selecting the type of quick hitch.
"Fully automatic quick hitches can be operated from the cab, with no need for the operator to manually insert a safety pin, so they are safer than semi-automatic, manual pin versions."
According to workplace safety advocate WorkCover NSW, two people died from semi-automatic quick hitch related incidents. Consequently, this led the organisation to announce the phasing out of the sales and supply of semi-automatic quick hitches in the state in the coming months, with other states likely to follow suit.
WorkCover NSW added that verification activities carried out by the organisation revealed approximately 50 per cent of machines fitted with semi-automatic quick hitches were being used without the safety device being engaged.
"WorkCover NSW has recognised this serious safety issue, and determined that semi-automatic quick hitches will no longer be allowed to be installed or supplied in the state from April 30," Withell says.
"Other types of hitch, including mechanical hitches and detach-only automatic hitches are to be reviewed throughout the year."
He adds other states have indicated support for NSW’s new stand.
"JCB recognised long ago the benefits of fully automatic quick hitches, and have gone a step further than many others," he says.
Fully automatic quick-hitches are standard on all JCB’s new large excavators and now available as an option on JCB backhoe loaders.
The JCB heavy line JS and JZ excavators carry fully automatic quick hitches which has a two-action release requirement.
"To ensure the hitch isn’t released by mistake, the operator has to press two separate functions within five seconds of each other on two different touch pads to affect the release of the hitch," Withell says.
Choosing fully automatic quick hitches helps increase safety on the worksite but Withell says it is only part of the solution.
"Site safety relies in vigilance and solid operator competencies no matter what equipment you use," he says.
"It’s important that the person fitting an attachment understand the attachment and the job it is intended for. Quick hitch maintenance is also important to ensure damage or debris is not inhibiting the locking mechanisms."
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