VIC: safety alert issued after employee’s arm severed by conveyor

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Monday, 29 March, 2021 - 12:15
Policy & legislation

WorkSafe Victoria recently issued a safety alert about controlling the risks associated with operating conveyors used in mining and quarrying operations following an incident in which an employee seriously injured their arm while maintaining a mobile conveyor.

The conveyor was operating at the time of the incident, and it did not have adequate guarding to prevent access to a dangerous drawing in ‘nip point’.

The employee placed their arm through an opening within the installed guarding in an attempt to align the conveyor’s belt.

The employee’s arm became caught between the conveyor’s tail drum and belt. No emergency stop devices were within the employee’s reach. Consequently, the conveyor continued to operate until a nearby employee isolated the plant.

Unfortunately, the employee’s arm required amputation during surgery.

The alert recommended a number of ways to control risks:

  • To reduce the risk of mining and quarrying plant entanglement or entrapment, operators must:
  • perform a risk assessment to identify all 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 poses a risk to employee health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable (for example, guarding to prevent contact with the belt and drum on a conveyor)
  • where plant must be operational during maintenance, ensure adjustment/service points are accessible from outside of the installed guarding, such as belt tensioning points
  • 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 plant.

The alert said mine and quarry operators should also 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.