Quick connector heads that allow different excavator attachments to be quickly interchanged are a tremendous innovation for construction. Today, one properly-sized excavator with several different attachments can do the work of several excavators. However, with this ease of changing attachments comes a responsibility to make sure these attachments are properly installed.
The main risk arising from the use of a quick-connect device is that the attachment, such as an excavating bucket, can become disconnected from the device and fall from the machine. Some of the reasons for this type of accident include:
- Being in a hurry and failing to engage the quick-connect device properly;
- Not activating a secondary locking device;
- Poor maintenance; and
- Overloading the attachment.
Train operators to do a complete motion check before swinging the attachment near other workers. The operator should always follow the manufacturer’s requirements for doing motion tests. All manufacturers specify steps to assure proper installation of attachments. Following is a generic list (but you should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations):
- Switch to the “LOCK” position after fully seating the coupler to engage the link pin with the locking lever.
- Test the connection by completely curling the coupler inward to make sure the attachment is completely engaged.
- Cycle the coupler attachment from “fully closed” to “fully open” at least twice.
- Try to disengage the bucket from the coupler using the machine weight. Dig the bucket teeth into the ground, lower the attachment against the ground to lift the tracks off the ground and try to force the bucket off.
- Perform all tests every time you engage an attachment. All tests must be performed away from personnel. NEVER swing coupled attachments over personnel.
- Some manufacturers have developed a retrofit kit to improve the mechanical locking safety of quick-connect heads and attachments. Check with your dealer to make sure your equipment has been retrofitted, if available.
- Instructions for testing of quick-connect heads should be in the cab of all excavators equipped with these heads.
- Operators should always follow the testing procedures required for the type of quick- connect head they are using.
- Consider using an independent secondary locking system to keep the attachment from falling if the primary lock fails.
Don’t take risks with your safety or that of your co-worker.