Operator loses leg to skidder winch
A forestry skidder operator has suffered a traumatic, on-site, surgical amputation after his leg was caught in a cable winch at the back of the machine.
According to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Queensland, the operator was ‘snigging’ (dragging tree logs using rope chains) when his leg became trapped up to his hip.
Unable to free himself, he had to have his leg amputated in order to be released from the machine.
WHS Queensland are unsure why the incident occurred and investigations are ongoing.
To prevent similar incidents, WHS Queensland is warning operators to stay out of any position that could cause them to become entangled and pulled, crushed or struck by the winch or the material being moved.
Operators should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety directions, including towing trees or logs along the winch’s centre line to prevent the machine falling on its side and breaking or damaging the cable.
Workers should also be aware that winches are extremely powerful and can pull the skidder — also known as a rubber-tyred tractor or crawler tractor — backwards. As a result, operators should always be vigilant and supervised when using a winch.
Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that employees working near winches are adequately trained in using the machinery, as well as associated risks and control measures.
Additionally, PCBUs must ensure the provision and maintenance of safe plants. This includes making sure that any winches fitted to skidders are suitable for the skidder’s pulling capacity and that the plant’s tyres are in good shape with enough tread to provide traction.
Inspection and maintenance must be carried out by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
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