A few years ago the Australian construction industry began to push heavily for better scissor lift safety, following a series of tragic construction site fatalities involving this equipment. Having already led the market with the operator protection fit out of its entire boom lift fleet, in 2019 Coates Hire became the first Australian equipment hire specialist to also commit to upgrading operator safety across its entire scissor lift fleet.
Coates Hire’s search for the right safety technology began in earnest in 2018, and according to Rob Branch, National Product Manager – Specialist Mobile Products, there were a few standout requirements from very early on.
“With such a diverse fleet we needed technology that could be retrofitted to all scissor lift makes and models,” Rob explains. “It also needed to be cost effective to implement on a large scale, and straightforward to install and maintain.” The ideal solution was found in EQSS OverWatch™.
“This technology offers compatibility with Coates Hire’s existing fleet and longevity of use with our suppliers – so it’s a really good fit,” says Rob. “Once the roll out is complete we will have a single secondary operator protection system across our entire scissor lift fleet, so all of our branches, mechanics and customer support teams will have one consistent system to work with.”
The scissor lift safety agenda is moving forward in other parts of the industry too. All of the OEMs that supply scissor lifts to Coates Hire have approved the use of EQSS OverWatch™ on their machines, and all new scissor lifts from these manufacturers will come with it fitted as standard.
According to Rob, EQSS OverWatch's unique philosophy will help Coates Hire and its customers to approach scissor lift safety a little differently. “This technology is quite unlike any other secondary protection system on the market today,” he says. “Where other systems are designed to detect the proximity of other objects, this unit intuitively detects the movements and behaviours of the operator.”
For example, if the operator leans their head over the rail, presses up against the controls or moves too far away from the controls, EQSS OverWatch™ will automatically shut the equipment down.
“Anecdotally we know that many accidents happen when operators fail to use equipment safely” says Rob. “By monitoring operator behaviour EQSS OverWatch™ forces users to stand in the correct position, and to operate scissor lifts safely.”
Other benefits of this system include:
Ease of installation – a simple plug and play format makes installation efficient – less than an hour in most cases.
Convenience and durability – many other solutions feature sensors that hang from rails and parts that can be easily bumped and damaged. EQSS OverWatch™ is compact, conveniently placed and not particularly prone to damage.
Back up safety features – voice commands provide verbal warnings related to operator behaviour, while an override mechanism prevents users from repeatedly overriding safety features.
Safe movement through doorways – this technology also allows operators to exit and remotely operate scissor lifts through tight spaces like doorways.
The need to improve scissor lift safety has long been embraced by customers and backed by industry. Recently CPB Contractors, Lendlease and other major contractors began insisting that scissor lifts fitted with secondary protection be prioritised for use on their sites. In December 2020 many Australian contractors will make this a mandatory requirement.
“While this change is not yet an Australian Standard or a statutory requirement, I find it encouraging that this is being driven by industry for industry, so it’s about safety for all the right reasons,” says Rob.
With close to 500 scissor lifts already fitted with EQSS OverWatch™, Coates Hire is currently working towards installing this technology across its entire 3000-strong scissor lift fleet within two years.
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