Chapter 30 Improvements can come by accident!

Have you had an accident at your course?

Have you gained from it or did you just forget it and hope it does not happen again?  

As we have seen, one of the most important things that Management can do for safety, is to make sure that every accident

which occurs is considered:

  These are the things I consider after an accident to ensure that:

What went wrong at the time of the accident?

What had gone right at the time of the accident ? - look for a positive slant

 After an accident we then must initiate a full Risk Assessment on the course and identified the areas of concern.

  1. we must ensure that there is an annual induction/ update seminar with the staff, in which we go over the changes in equipment, premises and we review any accidents which have happened over the past year.
  2. we must encourage feedback from the staff to see if they see any problems, can offer any solutions or can point out our failures.

During one of these discussions the staff identified that they had concerns about slopes and the provision of roll bars on ride-on mowers and Cushman trucksters

The law says: Where, in the case of self-propelled machinery with a ride-on driver and possibly ride-on operators, there is a risk of rolling over, the machinery must be designed and fitted with anchorage points for allowing it to be equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS)  

We found four-poster roll-bars and seatbelts were now available for the Cushman truckster. When we fitted these to the truckster, they were not popular with the operators as the weight made the vehicles appear less stable on slopes - arguably we were wrong to fit them!

The reading of the law revealed further potential problems, in that any ride-on should be considered, compact tractors, diggers, ride-on mowers, and golf buggys.  

Every ride-on machine was considered and the manufacturer contacted. You will have noticed that some ride-on machines have roll-bars and some don't. This is because the manufacturer, through their research and development, has identified which of their ride-on mowers requires a ROPS. Their research and development can only however look at the expected use, you are still required to carry out a risk assessment for your place of work.  

We reviewed an accident with a ride-on mower. The ride on mower did not have ROPS and indeed this was not available. The manufacturer had found that the mower would slip down the slope long before it would topple, as the front cutter was so large as to prevent overturning.   The overturning had happened with the ride-on toppling into a bunker. Although the driver was unhurt, the equipment damage assessed at £3000 plus.

On analysis it was found that the manufacturer, in order to improve stability, had widened the front wheel-base. This was ideal for all the normal circumstances but did mean that, should you wish to cut along the edge of your bunker, the wheel was required to come close to the edge. On rivetted bunkers this is dangerous.

At the same time the manufacturer brought all the controls from the right, instead of from the front, meaning that the operator can only climb in and out from the left. It was fortunate that the driver cut the bunker edge clockwise, which enabled him to escape when the ride-on began to topple. Had he cut it the other way, he would have been trapped.  

The solution is that bunkers are cut, using a ride-on to around 600mm (2 feet) from the edge of the bunker, and the rest cut using a hover mower.

If you attended Saltex or Scotsturf, you may have seen that some manufactures are providing horizontal movement control of the cutting deck to help with this problem  

We reviewed another accident which happened when we changed the buggys for a different make. The orderlies had got used to driving the buggys at full speed and taking full lock as they entered our yard. The new buggys were geared to go faster. The buggy toppled sideways - no injury to the operator but £2800 of damage. The financial problem is that the buggys have a ROPS designed to be light and unobtrusive. Any damage requires the ROPS to be replaced.  

We have now arranged that all operators, greenkeeping or not, go through a short course in use for all new equipment.

  In conclusion, although I have not identified the golf course, indeed courses, I have tried to be as honest as possible about our problems and solutions, can you be as honest about your workplace?

Have you contacted the manufacturer about older equipment and ROPS?

Have you carried out a risk assessment on your premises?

Are your operators trained and adequately updated?

Have you arrangements in place in the event of an accident?

If you have an accident, do you use this to improve safety in your workplace in the future?