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                        5 min read

                        Top 10 riskiest machines

                        Top 10 riskiest machines

                        In many industries, heavy machinery is an indispensable part of day to day operations. Machines are used to improve efficiency and productivity, and in many cases, the work simply would not get done without them. However much we rely on them, there is no denying that machinery can be very dangerous and risky. Incidents involving machinery occur every day, causing minor and serious injuries, as well as fatalities. So we’ve listed what we believe are the top 10 riskiest machines and some of the reasons why they can be so dangerous.


                        10. Backhoe loaders

                        Backhoe loaders are versatile machines typically used for digging, backfilling and removing dirt. There are a number of risks associated with backhoes that see them rank at number 10 on our list. Backhoes are often used on uneven surfaces, increasing the risks of them tipping and endangering the operator and bystanders. Additionally, backhoes, like any machines designed for digging, risk striking utilities such as powerlines, leading to an increased risk of explosions and electrocutions.


                        9. Woodchippers

                        Woodchippers are robust machines used to reduce large chunks of wood such as tree branches or trunks into smaller wood chips. These machines can be very dangerous due to their powerful cutting mechanisms and the potential for material kickback. Operators of woodchippers can face extreme risks including becoming entangled in the machine, which could result in severe injuries or fatalities. This article shows an example of woodchipper entanglement causing a fatality, resulting in the company involved being handed the state's largest WHS related fine.

                        Operators and bystanders should also use personal protective equipment (PPE) and keep a safe distance from woodchippers to help reduce the risk of being struck by wood debris.


                        8. Mobile cranes

                        Mobile cranes are often utilised in the construction industry to lift heavy loads. Lifting suspended loads is the first reason mobile cranes make our list of the riskiest machines. Suspended loads can prove risky to the safety of those working on the ground if the load is not well secured. The load can fall and result in the crushing of people below, if the risk is not properly managed.

                        Additionally, loads can cause mobile cranes to rollover, marking another reason why they are among the riskiest. The rollover of mobile cranes is a safety risk to not only the operator, but any other personnel working in the vicinity, similar to poorly secured suspended loads. This can occur when the load is too heavy for the crane, or when the crane is situated on uneven ground.


                        7. Conveyors

                        While conveyors are usually found in manufacturing and distribution centres, many mobile machines also contain conveyor components, such as belts and rollers. These conveyors pose a critical risk to safety as the moving parts can cause entanglement when not guarded appropriately. This risk can be mitigated, though, through guarding of dangerous conveyor components and appropriate training of operators.


                        6. Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs)

                        Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) have made our list of the riskiest machines at number six simply because they lift people. There are two main safety concerns with this. The first is because they allow people to work from heights. This is inherently risky, as there is a chance of a worker falling from a height, particularly if they are not correctly using or securing their harness.

                        Another reason lifting people makes MEWPs so risky is that they bring people closer to obstructions such as overhead powerlines. We all know how dangerous overhead powerlines can be and how they can cause severe injuries or fatality through electrocution. For further information on how to manage the risk of operating machinery around overhead powerlines, see our article Overhead powerlines - the silent killer.

                        MEWPs can also be considered risky due to the fact that they are so easily accessible. Elevating work platforms are very easy to hire for use, meaning those who are untrained in their dangers may also use them, and potentially put themselves at risk.


                        5. Forklifts

                        Forklifts are very commonly used across Australia and many other parts of the world. For this reason, we see countless incidents involving forklifts each year. There are many reasons forklift incidents can be caused, and one of these is forklifts being used by untrained operators. Operators who have not completed the appropriate training may not be fully across the safe operating procedures (SOPs) for the machine, or understand the best techniques for safe use.

                        Another reason for the high frequency of forklift incidents includes the security of the loads they are transporting. Unsecured loads can not only pose a safety risk to the operator, but also others in the vicinity. Here is an example of a man who was charged after a forklift’s unsecured load allegedly toppled onto another nearby worker.


                        4. Dump trucks

                        Dump trucks are mostly used for the purpose of transporting materials, and while they may not initially appear to be highly dangerous, they can be when they experience a rollover. Rollovers occur frequently with dump trucks due to their size and high centre of gravity. This can be particularly risky to the safety of the operator, or anyone else who may be working in the vicinity of the dump truck.


                        3. Excavators

                        Excavators are powerful machines used for earthmoving in industries such as construction and mining. Any time an excavator is used for the purpose of digging, there is a risk of striking utilities and underground services including gas, electrical and telecommunication cables. Striking such utilities can cause downtime on the job and inconvenience to anyone in the surrounding area that relies on them, but it can also be highly dangerous to the excavator operator, especially if they strike electrical or gas services.

                        Excavators are also a versatile piece of equipment, due to the attachments that can be used with them. These various attachments can also make excavators extra risky, as they may be used for purposes they are not primarily designed for. For example, excavators are commonly used for lifting, even if they are not the most fit for purpose machine. It may be safer to lift objects with a mobile crane instead, but some people use excavators for efficiency or availability reasons, which may increase risks to the operator and surrounding people unnecessarily.


                        2. Quad bikes

                        Just like forklifts, we see numerous incidents involving quad bikes each year, simply due to the sheer number of them used across farms and properties in Australia. Their popularity can be attributed to their ability to be used on uneven terrain seen on such properties, however, this in and of itself can be hazardous. The uneven surface quad bikes are ridden on can cause rollovers, and often results in the crushing of the operator, which can sometimes be children or elderly farmers, who may have difficulty lifting the vehicle off themselves and seeking help after such an incident. Preventing a rollover on a quad bike is difficult, but the risk of crushing can be mitigated through the installation of roll bars or cages on the machines.


                        1. Tractors

                        We’ve rated tractors as number one in our list of the riskiest machines. The main reason they take the top spot is unguarded power take-off (PTO) shafts. They are used to transfer power from the tractor to any attached equipment, and are notorious for being unguarded. PTOs can pose a critical risk to operators, and others in the vicinity of the tractor, so care should be taken to mitigate these risks.


                        Need help managing risks on your machine?

                        Ideagen Plant Assessor is the platform for you! Our team’s wealth of machinery and legislative knowledge combined with our industry leading risk assessments can assist you in managing machinery risks in the most effective way possible. Contact us today on 1300 728 852 or 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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