Use of semi-automatic quick hitches

Use of semi-automatic quick hitches

The Health and Safety Authority has advised that it now considers the supply and use of semi-automatic quick hitches is not in compliance with the relevant legislation. The basis for this opinion is related to the requirements of an important harmonised standard that relates to earthmoving machinery.

EN 474-1 [Earth-moving machinery-safety-part 1: General requirements] is a harmonised standard under the Machinery Directive that deals with the general requirements of earthmoving machinery. The Machinery Directive deals with the placing of machinery on the market and was transposed into Irish law by the 2008 European Communities (Machinery) Regulations. The Machinery Directive obliges manufacturers to consider both normal intended use and foreseeable abnormal situations.

Following a revision to the standard in 2013, EN 474-1 explicitly rules out the use of semi –automatic quick hitches because it was determined that this design does not meet the essential health and safety requirements of the Directive as it was widely observed that the locking pin was not being used and there had there been a number of fatalities linked to this poor practice. The relevant reference is Amendment A3 in 2013 to EN 474-1 in section B.2.1.3 of Annex B which states “A design with engagement from the operator’s station in combination with locking at the attachment bracket is not permitted.”

The legal obligations of a Directive require compliance with its essential health and safety requirements. Compliance with a harmonised standard permits presumption of conformity with a Directive.

The “Use of Work equipment” Directive which was transposed into Irish law through the 2007 General Application Regulations obliges employers to provide equipment that complies with any relevant Directive.

Also there are obligations under Section 8(2)(h) of the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act and the associated Schedule 3 which requires employers to take account of changing circumstances; item 6 of Schedule 3 refers to “the replacement of dangerous articles, substances and systems by safe or less dangerous articles, substances or systems of work”.

Consequently semi-automatic quick hitches must not be supplied for sale because they are not considered to be compliant with the Machinery Directive and arrangements need to be made to remove semi-automatics from service.