White Card Online: Unguarded Machinery a Problem on Site

WorkSafe has begun a year long campaign to highlight the dangers of unguarded machinery, coincidentally co-insiding with an accident which left a worker injured after his thumb was crushed by an unguarded machine. The company involved has been issued a $30,000 fine because it removed guarding from a machine.

The importance of guarding has been highlighted by WorkSafe’s Regional Director Shane Gillard who has urged other businesses not to ignore safety on their sites but address any issues before it was too late such as the company involved in this story.

The company, Campbellfield manufacturing company, neglected the duties in failing to properly guard the machinery, in addition to failing to provide the appropriate instruction, training and supervision.

This post by SafetyCulture.com.au provides more insight:

A business has this week been fined $30,000 in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court after a contractor had his thumb crushed in an unguarded machine in 2010.

 The prosecution come as WorkSafe begins a 12-month campaign targeting dangerous machines.

 Regional Director, Shane Gillard, said removing guarding from a machine was a recipe for disaster and urged businesses to revisit safety practices around machinery before it was too late.

 “Guarding is there to protect workers from being seriously hurt or killed, yet we frequently come across incidents where someone has suffered a serious injury that could easily be prevented,” he said.

 The Campbellfield manufacturing company pleaded guilty to failing to provide instruction, training and supervision.

 The worker’s thumb was crushed while operating an unguarded operating press after a safety device that stops the machine from working when guarding is removed was taken off.

 The court heard the device was removed by a sub-contractor who was engaged by the company to carry out work and training at the site.

 The subcontractor spent 10 minutes removing the device on the day of the incident then trained the worker to work the press without the guard.

 He later told WorkSafe investigators he was aware the press was being used by the worker without the interlocked guard.

 WorkSafe’s investigation found the company did not know the interlocked guard had been removed by the sub-contractor, but failed to provide proper supervision, instruction and training.

 The company was fined $30,000, without conviction, while the subcontractor had earlier received a $5000 fine in May after pleading guilty to failure by a self-employed person to ensure people are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php

Many machines and equipment on construction sites can be dangerous and pose a variety of risks. These risks must be either eliminated or reduced. Quite often elimination of the risk is not possible, as the particular machinery is necessary for the task, in this case minimisation of the risk should be the next priority and this can be done by introducing guarding to prevent access of workers or their extremities to dangerous parts.

Every workplace using machinery needs to implement the appropriate guarding. Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their workers on site and according to the law part of that protection involves providing appropriate machine guards. These need not be elaborate or complicated and should not interfere with productivity in any way.

The first step in guarding machinery is to identify the hazards and the associated levels of risk. Employers should look at the safety characteristics of machines when purchasing new equipment and try to get suppliers and manufacturers to fit guards to your specifications.

Identifying the hazards or events that could give rise to a potential injury needs consideration, including the types of injury or illness they can cause such as lacerations or crushed fingers (such as this worker) caused through inadequate machine guarding.

Employers should conduct a separate risk assessment for each machine and any associated system of work used with that machine.

Consultation between employers and employees is an important step to evaluate the effectiveness of implementing control measures such as machine guarding is essential.

If an employer has determined that a hazard cannot be eliminated or replaced with a less hazardous option, the next preferred measure is to use an engineering control.  Examples of engineering controls that can be introduced to minimise the risk of machine injury is introducing guarding, using enclosures, automating a process.

 Posted by Steven Asnicar


WorkCover NSW Issues Mobile Plant Safety Alert

NSW Safety Watchdog WorCover has issued a safety alert regarding the use of mobile plant and machinery around overhead powerlines following numerous incidents being reported daily.

This post by SafetyCulture.com.au has more:


 WorkCover and NSW Electricity supply authorities continue to receive notifications of incidents where mobile plant have come into contact with energised overhead power lines.

 Since July 2011, there have been a total of 55 incidents reported where cranes, machinery and other mobile plant have come into contact with power lines.

 Such incidents include:

  • A mobile crane operator struck a 11kV power line when unloading a truck.
  • A truck driver raised a tipper and struck a 11kV power line.
  • An excavator boom struck a 11kV power line.
  • A low loader struck low voltage overhead power lines.
  • An operator raised a drill rig into high voltage transmission lines.
  • A wheat harvester struck power lines, which resulted in a fire that engulfed the machine.
  •  A cement truck reversed into an overhead service line at a residential property.

 The state safety administrator points out that each of these incidents is the result of a failure to identify the hazard of overhead power lines and a failure to implement a safe system of work, including the maintenance of safe approach distances from the energised power lines

Source: http://www.safetyculture.com.au/news/index.php/07/nsw-safety-watchdog-releases-mobile-plantoverhead-power-lines-safety-alert/

When working with power lines overhead, authorities suggest you treat all electric power lines as live and either have them de-energised or create an exclusion zone around them and keep workers out. De-energising power lines should only be done once arrangements have been made with electricity authorities during the planning stages.

Once the risks have been identified, the employer should conduct a written assessment of the risk and it’s potential for harm.

In assessing the risk the employer or self-employed person should consider the following:

  • The minimum clearance distance between the crane/machinery and the power line
  • The characteristics of the load being transported in the case of cranes, including dimensions of the load and whether the load is conductive.  Similarly to electric lines, loads should also be assumed to be conductive until proof that it is not has been provided by a person qualified to do so.
  • Also consider whether the load is above the electric line. If it is there is a possibility of it falling onto the lines.
  • Also consider unexpected movement of the terrain, ground or surface upon which the crane or plant is located, possibly resulting in a corresponding surge or sudden movement towards live electric lines.
  • Consider the weather, prevailing or unexpected wind strength and direction.
  • What are the chances of swaying or sagging of over lines. This can be caused by weather or varying temperatures.
  • Whether the functional behaviour of the crane, load or plant may result in contact with electric lines overhead.
  • What is the likelihood of crane or plant or machinery becoming live through contact with energized line.
  • How the load being carried by a crane is secured and if a part of the load may come into contact with the electric line.

The next step in the process would be to develop strategies to either eliminate the hazard or minimise its risk. With all workplace risks, elimination is always the preferred method of dealing with risks.

There are a variety of methods that can be undertaken to eliminate the risk, such as de-energising lines, rerouting electric lines or replacing existing overhead lines with underground lines.

Often, elimination is not possible, so replacing the risk with one less risky would be the next alternative. 

The next step in the process would be the isolation of the hazard. Some examples of this may be to erect a physical barrier to prevent any part of the machine or the load being moved from entering  the exclusion zone and injuring someone outside of the zone.  A non-conductive physical barrier should be erected and be capable of withstanding an impact from falling objects, loose materials or other plant or machinery.

Alternatively re-designing equipment or the work process should be undertaken. This may involve using limiting devices to limit the movement of the machinery so that it does not accidentally injure a worker nearby. Where the limiting device prevents movement, sudden stopping or the momentum of the load should be considered.

The introduction of administrative measures is the next measure that should be considered and can include using a safety observer to watch and warn workers and machinery operators of dangers while the machinery is in movement.

It does not need to be said again because all workers should be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Using insulated gloves may be one such method, as it will prevent electrocution when the worker comes into contact with a conducting part of the crane, plant or

When implementing risk treatment measures need to be developed when elimination is not possible. Monitoring and reviewing the risk treatment measures developed should be conducted regularly and whenever the work site changes. Modification of the measure or its implementation should then be carried out.

Posted by Steven Asnicar



White Card Update: Construction Worker Hit by Falling Glass


According to a report on Examiner.com.au a construction worker lies critical in hospital after being hit by a sheet of falling glass outside a Hospital Construction site. The man was working as a glazier when the incident occurred and the man had to be treated for severe lacerations. He is still in a critical condition but has stabilised since yesterday.

The post goes on to state:

A CONSTRUCTION worker is in a critical condition after being crushed by a sheet of glass outside the Launceston General Hospital yesterday.

 The glazier was working on the hospital’s new integrated care centre in Frankland Street when the glass fell on him.

 Ambulance Tasmania received the call around 10am, and treated the man for severe lacerations.

A hospital spokeswoman said he also suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries, and was taken to the emergency department in a serious condition.

 By yesterday afternoon his condition had deteriorated, and he was listed as critical but stable.

The hospital’s occupational health and safety officers attended but work continued at the construction site, which is managed by Fairbrother. The company’s general manager Peter Killick said he could not comment on the accident because the worker was a subcontractor from an interstate firm.

Workplace Standards, which is investigating the incident, said the man was employed by Hi Tech Glazing.


The worker in this incident is lucky to alive, considering the dangerous nature of glass and the seriousness of the lacerations he received. Unfortunately another worker this year was not as lucky. Earlier this year a teenage worker was killed by a falling excavator bucket on an Australian construction site in Sydney. The incident was made more sad by the fact that the worker was a young apprentice at the beginning of his life when it was cut short by safety breaches on the site.

These two occurrences although tragic highlight the need for stricter adherence to safety measures on site. Falling objects present a very real danger to construction workers and need to be addressed on every construction work site. All employees need to take the necessary precautions to avoid objects falling and hitting other people on site and adjoining areas, such as dwellings, yards, or roads beside the construction site.

Possible falling hazards are objects such as tools and materials, debris and other equipment that has the potential to fall from a workstation or platform or into a trench and potentially injure a worker or passer-by.

Both employers and employees have a responsibility to assess the risk of objects falling and injuring workers. Controls must be used to reduce these risks. Safety controls need to be in accordance with regulation standards.

Possible measures that can be undertaken to minimise the risk of injury from falling objects include :

  • Barricade or hoarding at least 900mm high less than or equal to 15 degrees,
  • hoarding at least 1800mm high greater than 15 degrees and less than or equal to 30 degrees,
  • Another possible solution may be using fully sheeted hoarding at least 1800mm high greater than 30 degrees.
  • If the angle is equal to or more than 75 degrees and not demolition work, erecting work or dismantling formwork you should erect a gantry, close the adjoining area, ?erect a catch platform with vertical sheeting or perimeter screening. 
  • For demolition work or work to erect or dismantle formwork, the principal contractor must close the adjoining area, or screening containment can be erected on the perimeter.

As an employee there are certain basic steps that can be followed to minimise the risk of injury from falling hazards. Some of the basic guidelines to follow are:

  • Use fences and barricades to separate the hazard from other workers and people
  • Use the appropriate signs to warn of the danger of falling objects
  • Install safety nets where necessary to catch falling objects or debris
  • Keep tools in the appropriate place or toolbox and not lying around the ground
  • Ensure materials are properly secured  when moving or lifting

While it may be too late for the workers injured in these instances adherence to safety planning and regulation can assure that other workers on construction sites avoid the same fate.


Posted by Steven Asnicar