Print Share
The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Date: 
Tuesday, 28 May, 2019 - 16:15
Category: 
Incidents & prosecutions
Location: 
Queensland

A worker was fatally injured after becoming trapped in a conveyor belt system at a recycling facility in Queensland.

Workplace Health & Safety Queensland said it is not clear at this stage what caused the incident and investigations are continuing.

Plant is a major cause of workplace death and injury in Australian workplaces, and there are significant risks associated with using plant and severe injuries can result from:

  • Unsafe use
  • Exposure to unguarded moving parts of machines
  • Falls while accessing, operating or maintaining plant.

 

Conveyors (including belt and auger/screw type conveyors) pose significant risk to workers when moving parts are exposed. Hazards likely to cause injury include:

  • Rotating shafts, pulleys, gearing, cables, sprockets, chains, clutches, or fan blades
  • The run-on points of belts, chains or cables
  • Crushing or shearing points e.g. Augers and slide blocks, roller feeds, conveyor feeds
  • Machine components that move, cut, grind, pulp, crush, break or pulverise materials.

 

Before accessing conveyors for maintenance, or cleaning a rigorous isolation, lockout and tag-out process needs to be carried out. An isolation and lock-out process includes:

  • Isolating the conveyor from all energy sources that can cause harm
  • Locking all the isolating units in the isolated position
  • Dissipating or restraining any stored energy that may give rise to a hazard.

 

If any type of guarding is removed for maintenance or cleaning:

  • The guarding must be replaced before the machine is put back into operation and,
  • The plant should not be able to restart unless the guarding is in place.

 

In 2015, a company was fined $35,000 after a worker sustained multiple fractures and soft tissue damage after his arm was drawn into a conveyor.

The worker had observed a problem with the conveyor while it was being shut down. He was using his index finger to feel where the belt was grabbing at the tail drum of the conveyor when he was distracted by another worker. The guarding on the machine had also been removed for a repair and not replaced.

In 2014, a company was fined $35,000 following an incident where a worker’s hand was amputated after it was drawn into a nut harvesting auger.

The worker was attempting to free a blockage with a stick, while the augers remained in operation. The stick became caught, and the worker’s ha