The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety recently issued a safety alert about contact with workers or equipment by excavators, following a number of incidents.
Since 2015, two workers have been seriously injured through contact with an excavator while it was being utilised as a crane.
In both instances, the controls for the bucket, boom or dipper arm of the excavator were inadvertently or incorrectly activated while the workers were within the slew radius.
Additionally, there have been three reported incidents of personnel working within the slew radius of an operating excavator, and two where light vehicles, having entered the working radius, were damaged by contact with the excavator.
The safety bulletin said the unintended movement of the bucket, boom or dipper arm on an excavator can result in:
A serious or fatal injury
Instability of the excavator
Damage to equipment.
The safety alert made a number of recommendations:
Confirm workers are competent to use the equipment and perform the work activities.
Confirm adequate hazard identification and risk management has been conducted prior to undertaking work.
Provide a means of direct positive communication (e.g. radio) for workers on foot to communicate with the equipment operator if they are required to enter the working radius of the machine.
Ground the bucket (where practicable) prior to any workers entering the slew radius of the excavator.
Apply the hydraulic lock-out lever when workers need to enter the slew radius of the excavator to carry out work.