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                        2 min read

                        Idling machinery causes multiple fatalities

                        Idling machinery causes multiple fatalities

                        There have been multiple incidents involving idling machinery causing the death of operators in recent months.

                        There have been multiple incidents involving idling machinery causing the death of operators in recent months.

                        The first incident occurred in Queensland back in June. A skid steer operator was performing yard work with a bucket attached to the loader. It’s believed the machine was still running when the operator stood in the bucket and leaned into the cabin to conduct maintenance. The bucket rose, trapping the worker between the front of the roof turret and the bucket, or its hydraulic arms, causing fatal injuries.

                        In the second incident, a worker died after being run over by a tractor on a Lockington, Victoria farm in November. It’s believed the tractor was idling when the 65-year-old operator began attaching an implement behind it. The tractor suddenly reversed, striking and killing the worker.

                        Both incidents are being investigated by the relevant state authorities.

                        Both of these incidents give rise to a range of questions regarding whether various controls were in place that we would expect to have been in place which would have negated some of the risks associated with idling machinery. 

                        Such controls include interlocks on the skidsteer that should prevent actuation of the loader unless an operator was in the seat and all aspects of the interlock engaged, and a park/service brake on the tractor. 

                        In the absence of further information as to whether these controls were in place, we can only comment on the more generic risks associated with machinery left idling and hence powered up.


                        The dangers of idling machinery

                        These incidents above are just two of the many we have seen here at Plant Assessor over the years that have involved idling machinery. In many instances, these incidents have been avoidable.

                        The dangers of being in proximity to, conducting maintenance, and fitting attachments to idling machinery are well documented with unexpected movement of the machine being a known hazard. This can be caused as a result of operator error in securing the machine, or mechanical failure of components such as brakes or hydraulics. When a machine is idling and power is still flowing to any attachments, such as buckets, the risk of them falling, striking or crushing the worker is greatly increased.

                        Another danger of leaving a machine idle and unattended is the potential for unauthorised persons to operate it. Those who are unqualified or not properly trained to use a machine may take an opportunity to operate it when it’s left running and unattended, increasing the risk of danger to themselves and others around them.

                        We recommend that when any piece of equipment requires maintenance, is being fitted with an attachment, or is not in use, it should be turned off, and locked out and tagged out where appropriate. While it may seem like you are saving time by leaving the engine running in your machine while you add an attachment or conduct maintenance, it is not worth risking the possibility that you may suffer serious or fatal injuries as a result.


                        Want to know more about machinery safety?

                        Plant Assessor has an experienced team of machinery safety professionals on hand to discuss with you the best way for protecting yourself and your workers from the safety hazards this equipment can pose. Simply call us on 1300 728 852 or email for more information.



                        Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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