A quick hitch on an excavator is a latching device that enables attachments to be connected to the dipper arm of the plant and interchanged quickly. An excavator operator may change the bucket on his excavator up to 30 times a day in order to maximise the machine productivity.
Approximately 13% of all accidents investigated on excavators are attributed to the bucket detaching from a quick hitch and injuring a ground worker. These are mostly fatal and major injuries. However, there may be many more dangerous occurrences that occur when a bucket detaches unintentionally from the hitch, but without injury because no one is underneath at the time. This means that quick hitch failures are relatively common, although injuries are less so.
Typically, the Quick Hitches are not made by the excavator manufacturer, although some are “badged” with the excavator manufacturer’s name and are supplied by them. There are a large number of QH systems on the market.
The Quick Hitch systems on the market can be manual, automatic or semi-automatic:
In the past 10 years, Quick Hitch systems have become increasingly common and now many large excavators and some mini-excavators are fitted with Quick Hitches. Quick Hitches need to be maintained and may well be replaced during the life of an excavator.
The users of Quick Hitches are required to ensure that they a suitable management process in place for ensuring that the operator is trained in their use and that a safe system of operation is in use.
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