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Telescopic materials handlers (telehandlers)

As with all lifting equipment, work with telehandlers should be properly planned and the risks assessed to ensure the work can be carried out safely.

Most machines feature a side-mounted cab, with the boom mounted to the right of the machine chassis. The operator’s view from the cab may be obstructed or ‘masked’ by the boom, cab pillars and other parts of the structure. Restricted visibility from the cab can also be a problem when reversing and when lifting large loads. Some machines have a centrally mounted cab and boom.  These pivot steer or articulated machines are known as teleloaders.

Telehandlers and teleloaders should only be driven by authorised, trained and competent people who have completed appropriate training and testing (see HSE Approved Code of Practice L117 in ‘Find out more’).

Hazards associated with machine operation

Before using a machine

When using a telehandler

The operator should always look around and check for the presence of pedestrians before moving off and while manoeuvring and travelling. 

Visibility

Drivers of loaders, lift trucks and telescopic handlers suffer from poor forward visibility when carrying loads in front of them.  Position the load so it does not obscure your vision. If this is not possible, or it compromises stability, it may be safer to travel in reverse. Take extra care and be vigilant when it has not been possible to exclude people from the work area.  Take a good look around the vehicle and sound the horn before moving off.

Attachments

A wide range of attachments are available for agricultural work e.g pallet or muck forks, buckets, bale spikes, block cutters and grabs.  Key points to remember are:

Fencing work

Using a telehandler boom to drive in fence posts is hazardous as the person holding the post or standing nearby may be at risk of serious injury. Risks include:

The action of pushing down on the fence post will tend to lift the attachment out of the mechanism securing it to the boom. Anyone in the vicinity is at risk of being struck or crushed by the attachment, should this occur.

Never use a telehander boom, or an attachment such as a grain bucket mounted on the boom, as a tool for driving in fence posts. Always use equipment suitable for the job e.g. a tractor mounted post-driver.

Media coverage

Below are links to incidents involving telehandlers which resulted in media coverage:

2016-02-16