A worker in Queensland recently had their foot surgically amputated after coming into contact with three operating exposed augers at the bottom of a feeder bin trailer.
Early investigations indicate the worker was sitting on the edge of the feeder bin with both legs on the inside of the bin, using a shovel to remove excess feed stuck on the sides.
For reasons yet to be established, he fell feet first into the feeder bin, trapping his legs within the three operating augers.
To release him, his left foot had to be amputated and he sustained significant injuries to his right foot. Investigations are continuing.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said plant is a major cause of workplace death and injury in Australian workplaces.
There are significant risks associated with using plant and severe injuries can result from: its unsafe use; exposure to unguarded moving parts of machines; and falls while accessing, operating or maintaining plant.
If the risks from plant cannot be designed out before it is installed, guarding, such as a shield, cover, or physical barrier, should be in place to prevent contact with moving parts.
If any type of guarding is removed for the purposes of maintenance or cleaning, it must be replaced before the plant is put back into normal operation. The plant should not be able to be restarted unless the guarding is in place.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland also said augers pose significant risks to workers when the moving parts are exposed.
Hazards likely to cause injury include: driver belts, pulleys, chains, sprockets and drive shafts; any rotating shafts (e.g. auger/screw flighting); any machine component which moves, cuts, pulps, crushes, breaks or pulverises materials.
On average each year there are 38 accepted workers’ compensation claims for crush injuries involving machinery and fixed plant in the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries. Fifty per cent of these are for serious injuries requiring five or more days off work.
Since 2013, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has been notified of 48 incidents involving machinery and fixed plant injuries and have issued 536 statutory notices related to the risk of mobile or stationary plant within the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries.