Excavator Quick Hitches

 Photograph of Typical Excavator Quick Hitch with safety pins

The Health and Safety Authority is issuing an urgent warning to Construction Employers, FAS CSCS Trainers and Excavator Drivers of the dangers associated with the use of excavators fitted with quick hitch devices. This warning follows a number of fatal accidents, and in a particular an incident in 2006 that resulted in an excavator driver receiving a criminal conviction.

The driver in this incidence failed to insert the safety pin on a semi automatic quick hitch after a bucket changeover.

Then at some stage during the course of the work the latching hook opened causing the bucket to detach from the quick hitch.

The bucket then fell on a co-worker causing death.

Quick Hitch Picture

The driver received a three month suspended sentence.

Quick hitch devices are used on excavators for the easy removal and attachment of equipment such as buckets and rock breakers. These devices depend on, positive hydraulic pressure and/or mechanical locks or safety pins, to hold the buckets and other attachments in place.

Where an excavator fitted with a quick hitch device is being operated, drivers should ensure the following before operating the machine

  1. The correct procedure for securing the attachment (bucket/rock breaker etc.) is employed and that the locking mechanism/ safety pin is fully deployed and secured.
  2. Once attachment is secured, that before use and when all persons in the vicinity are sufficiently clear of the machine, that the driver then aggressively shake the dipper arm to ensure attachment cannot come loose.
  3. Once step 2 is complete and work commences, never allow persons to work directly under the excavator arm attachment.
  4. If an excavator driver cannot secure the attachment to the quick hitch due to a missing safety pin, the driver must not operate the machine until his/her employer is informed and a safety pin has been sourced.