Evidence of Bruce Field, Liebherr GB


P You have been the MD of Liebherr GB Ltd since 1995?

BF Yes.

P You have been in the company since 1990?

BF Yes.

P You supplied a second hand R984 excavator to Euromin in 1992?

BF Yes.

P Shut off/ check valves cab be fitted to the machine. Are you aware that this shuts off the hydraulic fluid?

BF The normal purpose is to prevent spillage of fluid when fitting attachments.

P Where would the valve be operated?

BF Manually, located at the point of disconnection. You can put them at any point on the machine.

P If the valve is shut does this prevent hydraulic power?

BF There would be hydraulic pressure as far

as the valve but not beyond it.

P What would happen if the valve was shut off with the attachment still on?

BF It would prevent operation of the attachment.

P Is this an intended purpose of the shut off valve?

BF It can be.

P Is it mentioned in the literature?

BF I don't believe so: it isn't a standard feature.

P Were you personally aware of any enquiry from Euromin re shut off valves?

BF No.

P - Are you aware from records dated 8 th November 1995 that the service engineer C.Nelson fitted 2 shut off valves to the R984 at Euromin?

BF Correct.

P They were not standard on a new machine but could be fitted on request?

BF Correct.

P You have a document in front of you that shows an invoice and time sheet. Does the document show the grab had shut off valves fitted?

BF Yes.

P You are a leading manufacturer of construction equipment?

BF Absolutely.

P How important is safety to you?

BF Very important.

P You participate in safety groups?

BF Yes, particularly in Europe.

P On first supplying a machine, would you send a demonstrator?

BF That would depend on the size of the machine and whether it was a new customer.

P With an existing customer that you have known for 2 years, if they had a query about change of use of the machine, how would the company deal with that? BF We would take the inquiry to in-house services and technical support and either deal with it ourselves or pass the inquiry on to the relevant factory.

P In photograph 19 you can see a bright yellow hook on the stem of the grab. Was your company ever asked about welding a pair of hooks in that position?

BF No we would never approve such a thing.

P Why not?

BF Two reasons. One we would not allow it without an investigation on overall safety. Lifting is done by a separate attachment. Two, welding the hooks there interferes with the structural integrity of that part of the machine. A separate hook attachment can be supplied for that machine.

P Would you expect a grab to be used for lifting?

BF No. It's a grab it isn't meant for lifting.

P How could the hooks affect structural integrity?

BF The steel column transmits the loads. The hooks could interfere with the design and could weaken the stem. We don't know what the capacity is that the steel column is designed to lift. The original designers are the only people who could answer that.

P Is there a safety lever in the cab?

BF Yes.

P What is it and where is it? Refer to file B, page 154 on the front left hand side of the seat item 10 lever, item 11 console lifts up and switches off the hydraulics. This was a second hand machine manufactured in 1988, would it have come complete with a cut off lever?

BF Yes. It was tested and it was working.

P If you use the lever and then you want to cancel it, is there a delay?

BF If the engine is running, the functions are restored immediately.

P Does the shut off valve operate quickly?

BF If the pressure is up, yes, but you would need to operate it manually if it was fitted at the end of the boom.


D The invoice shows 2 valves?

BF Yes, one for each pipe.

D Look at photo 18. Where are the valves fitted?

BF At the front end of the dipper arm on the rigid steel pipe work at the connection of the rubber hose.

D Does the operator know the valves are there?

BF Yes.

D If the excavator is used as a lifting machine, there is a statutory regime for a safe working load?

BF Yes.

D - Your whole company is concerned with safety?

BF Absolutely.

D You are content that the cab is a safe environment? With no undue risks and no undue activation of the controls?

BF Correct.

D Can the grab attachment swivel?

BF I believe this one did.

D Using the hydraulic circuit the grab can be powered to swivel, can it swivel on its own account?

BF It is possible if knocked with sufficient force, but it is difficult. The grab weighs 2.5 tonnes.

D Which joystick swivels it?

BF Joystick 3 I believe.