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Court Summary - at a glance
- Ensure that the debarker, including the infeed conveyor system, is adequately guarded to prevent employees accessing the hazardous area while the machine is operating. This could be achieved by an interlocked gate with fixed guarding;
- Install a timed interlocked guard or similar device on any access gate. A timed interlocked guard or similar device would cut power to the debarker and infeed conveyor system if the gate was opened and would prevent access to the hazardous area until after it had de-energised and stopped moving;
- Ensure that the equipment provided to clear a jam is fit for purpose and could be positioned either while the debarker was locked out or with the operator in a safe location. This could be achieved by way of a purpose built block and/or gantry crane;
- Install a walkway between the chain conveyor and the adjacent wall to provide safe access for employees and prevent employees falling between the gap between the conveyor and the adjacent wall.
- Ensure an effective system is in place for identifying and controlling hazards;
- Ensure documented procedures are in place for clearing log jams in the debarker and infeed conveyor belt system;
- Ensure employees were adequately trained on the safe procedure for clearing jams; and
- Effectively supervise and monitor employees to ensure that they understand and follow an effective safe work procedure when clearing log jams in the debarker and infeed conveyor belt system.
On the day of the incident, the victim heard an alarm on the debarker and went to investigate. He found two logs jammed in the infeed. The victim put the debarker into manual mode before restarting the machine. He then exited the control room, stepping over the moving infeed conveyor chain, and walked down a 25 millimetre wide ledge to place a small wooden block into the moving chain. The block butted against the end of the log end pushing it into the debarker. Normally a pressure roller would come down to hold the log in place, however, the victim had placed the roller in the up position and it did not come down. The log swung around and hit the victim in the face causing him to fall two metres to the concrete floor below.
The victim suffered a fractured right eye socket, a fractured nose and a right frontal cerebral contusion.