News & Views

FPS to Support the ‘Bucket on the Ground’ Initiative

The Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) is adding its support to ‘Bucket on the Ground’, an initiative already being promoted by several companies, which requires inactive excavators with no specific briefed task and not banked, or not working in a controlled area, to be parked with the ‘bucket on the ground’ and preferably with the engine off.

The initiative still has some way to go before becoming a site norm but is gaining traction, as more companies are adopting the idea, which has numerous benefits.

Specifically, the ‘Bucket on the Ground’ initiative aims to offer site benefits, such as lower fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emissions, lower site noise and improvements to working area congestion. In addition, there are many safety benefits offered by the initiative, such as reduced risk of plant collision and a lower background level of distraction. The pedestrian hazard of approaching an idling, unbanked and non-barriered excavator with its bucket up, is also much reduced too.

This initiative was first observed on a Balfour Beatty site in Manchester, and Expanded Geotechnical has adopted the same methodology, with varying degrees of success, but it is an initiative worth persevering with.

The initiative is applicable to excavators because of their often-varied role on the construction site, typically tracking around the site, scraping, levelling, and tidying. They are usually not banked and are acting independently of any detailed or ongoing instruction. When an excavator does park, it is often in an undefined ad-hoc location with the engine running, the operator in the seat, and the bucket off the ground.

In contrast, mobile cranes with nothing to do sit quietly, usually engine off, presenting no risk of unexpected or uninstructed movement. Cranes and piling rigs tend to sit within restricted zones too, entry to which is controlled by a banksman. Excavators with nothing to do, for example waiting to load a muck-away wagon, or waiting for the next pile to be bored, often ‘find things to do’.

The FPS accepts that this approach is not always practical, with much depending on the site schedule and the specific tasks of the excavator. It also requires a level of constant vigilance and reminders to operators and site supervisors, to ensure they do put the ‘bucket on the ground’, but with the support and promotion of specialist contractors such as the FPS, the practice can become embedded in the behaviours on site.

It is with this goal in mind that the FPS is urging all its members to promote this approach in their own activities and highlight the existence of these initiatives to the main contractors if they are they are not already working in this way.

Author:  John Chick, Chair, Federation of Piling Specialists