Harvest safety warning issued after two workers suffered amputations - 14.12.15

Farmers and farm workers are warned of the risks associated with working with and around grain augers after two workers suffered amputations in recent workplace safety incidents.

The first incident happened on 26 November at Lake Cargelligo. The victim, a 45-year-old male worker accessed an inspection hatch at the bottom of the harvester’s outlet auger, but it entangled his left arm in the rotating flight resulting to an amputation.

The other incident occurred on 27 November at Leeton where a 52-year-old worker was augering grain from the rear of a truck into a grain storage shed. The investigation revealed that after emptying the grain from the truck, the farm worker’s left foot has been amputated by the unguarded rotating flight on the screw auger.

The incidents highlighted the risks of working with augers and emphasized the importance of guarding.

“Safety guarding is inexpensive, easy to install and reduces access to dangerous areas of a machine,” said SafeWork NSW Director, Regional and Response Operations, Tony Williams.

“Grain auger guards must protect people while also allowing grain to flow.

“SafeWork NSW recommends mesh up to 100mmx100mm apertures to enable grain to flow at a sufficient rate into the grain auger while maintaining an acceptable level of safety when used with an inner guard.

“These recent incidents at Leeton and Lake Cargelligo demonstrate how a lack of guarding can result in serious injury or death.

“Every injury at a rural workplace has an impact on the worker, their family, the farmer and the local community.

“Tragically, two workers have suffered serious injuries which our initial investigations indicate could have been prevented had effective guarding been in place.

“We want all farmers and farm workers to come home safely at the end of this harvest period and are urging all farms and rural workplaces to take steps to insure their grain augers have adequate guarding and safety systems so that no other workers are injured.”

SafeWork provided the following safety tips when using grain augers:

  1. Ensure the drive source is isolated, locked out and tagged at the power source before carrying out maintenance, repairs, installation and cleaning or before clearing a grain blockage
  2. Ensure rotating screws, intake areas and belts are adequately guarded in augers
  3. There should be an emergency stop fitted to all machines
  4. Ensure the auger is structurally sound and stable
  5. Ensure hazard warning signs are in place
  6. Ensure users receive adequate training, supervision and instruction in the safe use of augers.

Source: OHS News