Worker's foot amputated in feeder bin incident

Monday, 24 June, 2019

Worker's foot amputated in feeder bin incident

A worker’s foot has been surgically amputated onsite after his legs became trapped in three exposed operating augers at the bottom of a feeder bin trailer.

According to Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Queensland, the worker fell feet first into the feeder bin after sitting on its edge with his legs inside, in May 2019. He was said to have been shovelling excess feed off of the plant’s sides at the time.

His left foot had to be amputated in order to free him and his right foot was severely injured.

WHS Queensland is currently investigating the incident; however, they warned that unsafe use, unguarded moving parts and worker falls while accessing, operating and maintaining plants can lead to significant injuries and death.

In order to prevent similar incidents, WHS Queensland advised that plants should have guarding, such as a shield, cover or physical barrier in place, if risks from the plant can’t be designed out before installation.

Types of machine guarding include:

  • a permanently fixed guard, which is used if access to the area of the plant requiring guarding is not necessary during operation, maintenance or cleaning;
  • an interlock guard, which is used if access is necessary during operation, maintenance or cleaning;
  • a fixed guard, which is used if it is not reasonably practicable to install a permanently fixed or interlocked, barrier;
  • a presence-sensing system, which is used if it is not practicable to use any of the other three guards.

Additionally, any guard removed during maintenance or cleaning must be replaced before the plant is put back into normal operation and the plant should not be able to be restarted unless guarding is in place.

Finally, workers maintaining or cleaning augers — spiral-shaped tools used to move materials or liquids — must follow isolation, lock-out and tag-out processes to avoid creating a hazardous situation.

This includes de-energising or isolating the auger from all energy sources and locking all isolating units into the isolated position.

More information can be found via the incident alert on Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s website.

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