Employee's toe severed during scraper operation

Worksafe is issuing a reminder about managing the risks associated with operating scrapers used in hand-held mining practices.
Safety alert published

Thursday 17 Dec 2020

Industries and topics
  • Mining and quarries
  • Plant hazards

Background

An employee had a large toe severed while operating a pneumatically powered scraper (wire rope winch). The scraper was being used to move ore within a stoping area of the mine.

The scraper did not have adequate guarding to prevent access to dangerous entrapment zones. Wire rope spooled, creating space between it and the scraper drum. Consequently, the employee’s foot became wedged between the scraper’s rotating drum and the wire rope.

Although the injured employee was an experienced scraper operator, they were standing at the side of the scraper and not in the correct operating position.

Safety issues

Unguarded moving and rotating plant can create risks to the health and safety of employees and independent contractors by introducing dangerous entrapment and pinch zones.

Operating mining plant without following safe work procedures can increase the risk.

Recommended ways to control risks

To reduce the risk of mining plant entanglement or entrapment, mine operators must:

  • perform a risk assessment to identify all potential hazards and assess the adequacy of available control measures on moving and rotating plant
  • ensure adequate guarding is installed on moving and rotating plant which pose a risk to employee health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable (for example, guarding to prevent contact with the wire rope and drum on a scraper)
  • review the adequacy of plant guarding and, if necessary, revise the need for the use of such plant
  • ensure pre-task inspections of plant include checking for adequate guarding where applicable
  • ensure employees are provided with information, training and instruction about how to identify hazards associated with moving and rotating plant, and how to safely operate the plant

Mine operators should consult with employees and include a broad range of expertise and personnel when developing risk assessment teams to ensure all aspects of risk are considered.

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees and independent contractors. This means employers must eliminate so far as is reasonably practicable the risk associated with operating plant in the workplace. Where the risk cannot be eliminated, it must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.

Employers must also provide or maintain plant or systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017, mine operators must:

  • identify all mining hazards at their mine and assess associated risks, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • implement risk controls that eliminate or reduce risks, so far as is reasonably practicable
  • establish and implement a safety management system for the mine, which provides a comprehensive and integrated management system for all identified risks

More information