RR1000 - Inadvertent operation of controls in excavator plant - insight, analysis and recommendations for prevention by design

There is extensive anecdotal information available, particularly from large construction contractors, which suggests that inadvertent operation of controls (IOOC) on excavators is a significant issue. Any inadvertent operation of excavator controls has the potential to cause serious injury or death; whether or not injury occurs is only a matter of chance. This study was commissioned by HSE to gather evidence in the form of views, experiences and perceptions of both excavator operators, and subject matter experts working for both excavator manufacturers and for a major training provider. The aims of the research were to:

The research identified that operators perceived IOOC as a problem and it was their view that IOOC risks could be reduced through improved excavator design and the introduction of new technology. They did not see usability, productivity and reliability issues as being barriers to introducing design and technical changes aimed at reducing IOOC risks.

Subject matter experts considered that more could be done to better manage the risks of IOOC using new technical solutions. Some manufacturer based subject matter experts associated the risk of IOCC with operator error and context of use, rather than being additionally linked to control and system design.

Manufacturers are possibly under-utilising the potential of technological, ergonomic and human factors expertise to address IOOC risks.

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Updated 2021-04-15