QLD: worker killed in conveyor crush

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Tuesday, 28 April, 2020 - 11:45
Incidents & prosecutions

A worker in Queensland recently died after being trapped in a conveyor system at a workplace.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said there can be significant risks associated with using fixed plant, including conveyor systems and associated equipment.

Conveyors are used in a range of industries including agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and construction, while hazards likely to cause injury include:

  • Rotating shafts, pulleys, gearing, cables, sprockets or chains
  • Belt run-on points, chains or cables
  • Crushing or shearing points such as roller feeds and conveyor feeds
  • Machine components that process and handle materials or product (i.e. move, flatten, level, cut, grind, pulp, crush, break or pulverise materials).

The alert said unsafe use or exposure to unguarded moving parts of plant and machinery is dangerous and can lead to serious injury and death.

In a 5-year period up to February 2020, 173 workers’ compensation claims were accepted relating to workers being trapped by a conveyor in the manufacturing industry.

Between July 2014 and March 2020, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland was notified of 39 events involving conveyor related incidents in the manufacturing industry. In the same period, 139 statutory notices were issued by WHSQ for injuries sustained by, or managing the risk of, a plant conveyor injury.

In 2017, a company was also fined $20,000 after a worker’s hands were drawn into the rollers of a large industrial machine. The worker sustained de-gloving, crushing and multiple amputation injuries.

The investigation revealed that during daily start-up duties on the machine, workers were required to hand-feed materials between the rollers before it was operational.

In order for work to be done this way, the company authorised workers to bypass a malfunctioning light curtain on the machine. When operating correctly, the curtain ensured the machine would stop if workers attempted to physically access the rollers during operation.

With the light curtain rendered ineffective, the machine could be started while hands were in the ‘draw-in/crush’ zone.