If you work in the agricultural or construction industries you will be familiar with quick hitches. Quick hitches are latching devices which allow a variety of attachments to be fitted the dipper arm of an excavator. These hitches are available as manual, semi-automatic and automatic quick hitches and are popular with machine operators since they allow the arm attachment to be changed quickly. The operator can choose between diggers, drills, buckets or whatever else may be needed and change between them much faster than other methods would allow.
Are quick hitches safe?
If used correctly, quick hitches are safe and can reduce the amount of time that is required to complete a job. If the hitch is not fitted properly then, just as with any other piece of equipment, a serious accident could occur. To ensure that quick hitches are properly deployed and that an accident will not occur, the operator or site operator must ensure that the following things are done.
Ensure that the operator has been correctly trained - Fitting quick hitches isn't difficult but you must still ensure that it is done right. Never guess how to use a potentially dangerous piece of equipment. If you have any concerns it is always best to ask someone who has the appropriate knowledge and experience.
Only fit attachments which are the right size - Trying to fit a bucket or different attachment that isn't intended to fit on that arm will prevent the quick hitch from being correctly secured. The hitch may not fail immediately, but there is a risk that it could come open once the attachment is in the air. It that scenario anyone underneath the attachment, when it crashes to the ground, is likely to be injured.
Check that the hitch is in good condition - Ensuring that quick hitches are in working order before you use the equipment is imperative. The operator should always check that the safety pin is present and is the correct size, or they should test the automatic system to ensure that it engages. This should be tested before work begins and every time an attachment is changed. In this way, you can have confidence that your quick hitches are providing a quick, safe way of changing attachments.
Check that the area is clear - Never use heavy machinery in a public area where unsupervised individuals could place themselves in danger. If other people are working in the same area as you, you must check that they have been notified that you will be working and that they will maintain a safe distance from your machine.