WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about managing the risks associated with operating scrapers used in hand-held mining practices.
The alert was issued following an incident in which an employee had a large toe severed while operating a pneumatically powered scraper (wire rope winch). The scraper was being used to move ore within a stoping area of the mine.
The scraper did not have adequate guarding to prevent access to dangerous entrapment zones. Wire rope spooled, creating space between it and the scraper drum.
Consequently, the employee’s foot became wedged between the scraper’s rotating drum and the wire rope.
Although the injured employee was an experienced scraper operator, they were standing at the side of the scraper and not in the correct operating position.
The alert noted that unguarded moving and rotating plant can create risks to the health and safety of employees and independent contractors by introducing dangerous entrapment and pinch zones.
Operating mining plant without following safe work procedures can increase the risk.
The alert said there are a number of recommended ways to control risks, and to reduce the risk of mining plant entanglement or entrapment, mine operators must:
perform a risk assessment to identify all potential hazards and assess the adequacy of available control measures on moving and rotating plant
ensure adequate guarding is installed on moving and rotating plant which pose a risk to employee health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable (for example, guarding to prevent contact with the wire rope and drum on a scraper)
review the adequacy of plant guarding and, if necessary, revise the need for the use of such plant
ensure pre-task inspections of plant include checking for adequate guarding where applicable
ensure employees are provided with information, training and instruction about how to identify hazards associated with moving and rotating plant, and how to safely operate the plant
“Mine operators should consult with employees and include a broad range of expertise and personnel when developing risk assessment teams to ensure all aspects of risk are considered,” the alert said.