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Safety alert issued after contractor seriously injured by wetting auger

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Saturday, 3 July, 2021 - 12:45
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Queensland

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recently issued a safety alert following an incident in which a contractor suffered multiple fractures, degloving and severe lacerations to his arms after becoming trapped in a wetting auger at a feedlot.

Initial enquiries indicate he was performing maintenance work on the auger when, for reasons yet to be established, the motor started without warning, rotating the auger and trapping his arms.

The alert said plant and machinery come in many different shapes and sizes including augers and conveyors which pose significant risks to workers when moving parts are exposed, including:

  • crushing or shearing points

  • rotating augers and shafts (including joints, couplings, shaft ends and crankshafts), and drive mechanisms such as sprockets and gearing, friction rollers, cables, chains, clutches, cams or fan blades.
  • any machine component that processes materials by cutting, grinding, crushing, breaking or pulping/pulverising.

 

Workers performing tasks such as maintenance, repair, installation, service and cleaning on machines are highly vulnerable and have a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed through inadvertent operation of machinery and equipment they are working in, on, or around.

The alert said to use the hierarchy of controls to help decide how to eliminate and reduce risks in your place of work, and effective control measures for machinery are often made up of a combination of controls.

An isolation procedure should be followed when workers are required to perform tasks, for example, maintenance, repair, installation and cleaning of plant. Isolation procedures involve isolating potentially hazardous energy, so the plant does not move or start up accidentally.

For the isolation procedure to be effective, the alert said to identify all energy sources likely to activate the plant, or part of it, and isolate, de-energise, or control these to avoid the plant being inadvertently powered or movement.

In order to isolate plant, you should use a device that effectively locks out the isolation points.

These devices can include switches with built-in locks, or a designated lock-out point, and lock-out circuit breakers, fuses and valves. Other devices include chains, safety lock-out jaws (also known as hasps) and safety padlocks.

Tags should only be used as a means of providing information to others at the workplace. A tag should not be used on its own as an isolation device; only a lock is effective in isolating the energy source.

The alert also said control measures you put in place should be reviewed regularly to make sure they work as planned.