Would using Plant Assessor have prevented a fatality?

Would using Plant Assessor have prevented a fatality?

The following incident alert was published by Workplace Health & Safety Queensland on 29 March 2019

In February 2019, a worker was killed while repairing a skid steer loader. Early investigations indicate the safety prop was not engaged to ensure the bucket arms could not be lowered. The worker inadvertently activated the controls and was crushed by the arms. It appears the mechanisms which enable the hand controls to be isolated were inoperative due to general wear and tear on the machine.

A tragic incident I am sure you all will agree, as all fatalities are. When I read incident alerts such as this, I always ask myself, would using Plant Assessor have prevented this incident? After all, that’s what we’re here to do.

Plant Assessor was designed to help people using and supplying machinery ensure that the machines that they supply and use are safe & compliant, and that people using the machines have the appropriate information to help ensure safe operation.

It is very difficult to say for certain that using Plant Assessor would have prevented this fatality. What I can say for certain is that there are many risk controls in Plant Assessor to help prevent such an incident. These include –

  • OEM operation & maintenance manual
  • Safe Operation Procedures
  • Service & maintenance records
  • Risk assessment
  • Daily pre start checklist
  • Safety prop & instruction label
  • Controls labelled as to purpose & method of operation
  • Control direction consistent with machine movement

It is fair to say that if Plant Assessor was used to inspect the machine in question it would have identified:

  • The need for a loader safety prop and a label highlighting the need to use it
  • The need for service and maintenance procedures, which would also have required the use of the safety prop

If the safety prop was used, irrespective of any other control being missing (in this case the interlock for prevention of actuation of the loader arm), the fatality simply could not have occurred as it did.

In considering this specific incident, it also gave me reason to re-open a long-term issue regarding the lack of an Australian Standard related to the controls on earthmoving machinery.  Currently Plant Assessor does not contain specific inspection requirements around interlocks on operator controls due to the lack of an Australian Standard based authority.

There is an International Standard, ISO 10968:2004 Earthmoving Machinery – Operators Controls. This standard is under review at the moment.  We are currently in the process of creating operator control related inspection questions based upon this standard to enhance the inspection process for earthmoving equipment in this area.

As always, if you would like further information about this issue, please contact us on 1300 728 852 (or use the contact form below.)

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