Worker Loses Leg – Danger of Unguarded Machinery on Construction Sites

An article on Ppconstructionsafety.com discussed the risks associated with unguarded machinery on construction sites. The incident involved a construction boss who was well aware of machinery guards missing yet failed to take action.

A contractor has been fined for an incident during which a worker’s lower leg had to be amputated after he slipped into an unguarded concrete mixer. The worker was part of a group engaging in road construction work sealing off a pavement when the incident occurred, now his life will never be the same again. Investigators said that the mixer should not have been used once the guard had been removed.

The injured worker slipped as he was climbing from a flatbed lorry which was parked next to the mixer. The worker put his left leg down to steady himself and accidently entered the unguarded opening of the mixer as its moving paddles severely injured his lower left leg, consequently it had to be amputated at the knee.

This excerpt taken from PPConstructionsafety.com explains further:

HSE found the guard over the rotating paddles in the petrol-powered mixer had been removed the day before the incident and not replaced.

Incident will have a huge impact on the rest of his life

Colin Boon of West Street, Biddulph, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £6,700 and ordered to pay £8,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Alastair Choudhury said:

“This was an entirely preventable incident and a young man has sustained an injury that will have a huge impact on the rest of his life. Colin Boon failed in his duties to these workers. He was aware the guard had been removed and took no action to prevent use of the machine on the 13 September 2013.

Guarding on machinery is there for a reason – to prevent people getting hurt. If it is removed, absent or defective, employers are putting employees and others at risk of injury or death. No commercial pressure to take these risks is justified and the potential costs of incidents far outweigh any savings in time or money.

Source: http://www.ppconstructionsafety.com/newsdesk/2013/05/30/worker-lost-leg-through-unguarded-slurry-mixer/

Machinery such as mixers are a hazard like any other and as the law dictates hazards on construction sites, once identified need to be assessed and if possible eliminated. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, the risk associated with the hazard should be minimised. One of the ways of minimising the risks involved with mixers is ensuring that appropriate guarding is present, failure to do so is a breach of duty, even in Oz.

Although the employer in the story above suffered a financial loss, the real loser here is the employee who now has to go through life with only one fully functional leg. Every aspect of his life has changed and his quality of life will never be the same. However he was fortunate to have escaped with his life, others may not be as lucky.

 

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