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Protecting workers from nasty on-the-job surprises

Vancouver, BC -- WorkSafeBC has issued hazard alerts in response to two incidents that gravely injured one worker a...


Vancouver, BC — WorkSafeBC has issued hazard alerts in response to two incidents that gravely injured one worker and killed another.

 

In the first incident, a worker at a wood-processing plant in British Columbia was feeding rough lumber into a stripsaw. The employer had instructed workers to feed lumber into the stripsaw from the side. The worker, however, fed the boards through from the end of the infeed table instead, presumably for extra force. But when a board kicked back out of the stripsaw, it broke into three pieces. One piece struck another board on the table, which shot back down and struck the worker. He sustained fatal injuries.

 

WorkSafeBC recommends the following safe work practices to prevent injury from kickback:

 

For every machine, employers must perform a risk assessment to determine the most appropriate method of safeguarding for the level of risk. The surest way is to eliminate the hazard or find a substitution (such as using machines instead of humans). Next on the general hierarchy of safeguarding, in order of importance, are:

 

  • Engineering controls — such as effective kickback fingers, barrier guards, two-hand controls or presence-sensing devices;
  • Employee awareness of warning signs and labels, computer warnings and other safety alerts;
  • Training in safe work and lockout procedures; and
  • Personal protective equipment, such as safety eyewear and hearing protection.

 

Other recommendations are to ensure that workers operating dangerous machinery have the necessary supervision. They must be instructed to report unsafe acts or conditions so that these can be corrected without delay, and to follow established safe work procedures.

 

In a separate incident, a young worker in a rail yard of a pulp mill was preparing railcars for loading in the warehouse. As he pushed open one of the sliding doors of a railcar, the bottom of which was 1.5 m (4.5 ft) above ground, it came off its top rail guide and fell forward on top of the worker. The 630-kg (1,390-lb) door pinned the worker down under its weight until three workers lifted it off. The worker suffered serious internal injuries and multiple broken bones.

 

WorkSafeBC recommends that all equipment be inspected before delivery to a worksite. Employers should keep records of all inspections. Any defective or unsafe equipment should be returned to the supplier for repair, or rejected. Suppliers have maintenance records for all equipment they deliver, so employers should ask for those records and notify suppliers of any safety concerns.

 

Workplaces should follow these safe work practices specific to railcars:

 

  • Inspect doors. Railcar doors must be in good working order, with stops at both ends.
  • Employers should develop and use a railcar inspection checklist.
  • Report damage. Supervisors should be notified when a railcar is suspected of being damaged or unsafe.
  • Protect from falling doors. It is safest to open railcar doors only in areas where a forklift or other machine can be positioned in front of the door in case it falls off.
  • Stand at a safe position. Rather than face railcar doors as they open, workers should instead push the railcar doors away from them, standing to the side to open them. They should keep a close eye on the doors until they have securely and completely stopped.

For more information, visit www.worksafebc.com.