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Worker's head struck when using a bed borer

Advice about the dangers involved in using bed borers and information to employers about possible risk controls.

Date: November 1, 2015
Keycode:
Publication type: Alert
Industries: Construction
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Description

This safety alerts offers advice about the dangers involved in using bed borers and information to employers about possible risk controls.Bed borers are used to create underground holes through soil for installation of pipes and services.

Worker's head struck when using a bed borer

Highlights the dangers of using bed borers and provides information to employers about possible risk controls.

Background
An incident occurred in 2013 where a person sustained life threatening head injuries whilst carrying out work using a bed borer. Bed borers are used to create underground holes through soil for installation of pipes and services.

A pipe wrench, which may have been used to assist in the powered rod break-out process, or the bed borer, may have struck the person in the head.

The hazards

The safe use of a borer is dependent on machinery being appropriate for the application, and the implementation of safe systems of work and maintenance standards. Some specific hazards associated with bed borers are:

  • persons being struck by the machine due to its sudden or unexpected movement 
  • persons being struck by moving parts of the machine, including any attached tools, such as pipe wrenches 
  • insufficient preventative maintenance for safety critical components, such as inbuilt rod clamps
  • inadequate lubrication of rod lengths - this causes the rod threads to seize, making their removal difficult
  • the machinery having a poorly designed or inadequate means of securing rod sections as part of the rod break-out process.


Control measures

The following risk control measures may be implemented:

  • If there is sufficient space available, use a borer (directional drill) with an automated rod feeder and removal system
  • If using a bed borer, select a machine that has an appropriately designed and correctly maintained/functioning inbuilt rod clamping or holding system. This is preferable to using makeshift tools such as pipe wrenches as part of the rod break-out process
  • Sufficiently anchor the bed borer frame (carrier) to the ground in order to prevent excessive movement, including preventing it from unexpectedly lifting
  • Maintain separation distances between the borer and personnel whilst the borer is in operation
  • Sufficiently lubricate threaded rod sections to assist in rod break-out, and ensure use of the appropriate lubricant
  • Undertake ongoing preventative maintenance for safety critical components, including inbuilt rod clamps, to ensure they remain functional
  • Provide and maintain safe systems of work for employees associated with the operation, inspection and maintenance of the bed borer, and provide them with information, instruction, supervision and training in regard those systems of work. Note this is a mandatory duty.


A Bed Borer

A Bed Borer 

Further information
For more information about Workplace Support Services, please contact your WorkSafe Agent, or the WorkSafe Advisory Service on freecall 1800 136 089 or (03) 9641 1444, email info@worksafe.vic.gov.au or contact your nominated union representative.


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