Warning after bore pump death

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Farmers have been warned about the hazards of unguarded machinery after a fatal accident in the Northern Territory in December

Warning after bore pump death
Preliminary findings indicate the worker's clothing got caught in the pump's moving parts


The Northern Territory government has recommended machinery operators and owners install guards around moving items after a fatal accident occurred late last year.

In late December 2020, a Territory cattle station worker failed to return after checking bores on the property. According to WorkSafe NT, the worker was later found entangled in a bore pump with fatal injuries.

"Preliminary findings indicate the worker’s clothing got caught in the bore pump’s moving parts," a safety alert from the agency says.

"The pump’s pulleys and belt were unguarded, exposing the worker to a number of hazards including entanglement, friction and abrasion hazards, when the pump was running."

The incident comes after two Queensland workers received arm injuries in separate incidents involving conveyor belt systems in October, and when a Victorian man died when his clothing became caught up in the powered drill press he was operating.  

In working to prevent future accidents, the Territory Government says that isolating a machine’s moving parts is one option to reduce the risk of accidental contact.


Guards are one option to help prevent workplace accidents


Guards, such as covers, casing or shields, create a physical barrier preventing a person, their clothing, equipment or other accessories from making contact with machinery.

WorkSafe NT says guards should be fitted to prevent contact with rotating or moving parts, potential crush, shear or nip points in the machine, and those parts of a machine that become very hot during normal operations.

Guards should be solidly built and securely mounted, difficult to bypass, removable only by tools and, arguably most importantly, not create additional risks such as reducing ventilation or obstructing operator visibility.

"If the guarded area needs access for maintenance or cleaning, install an interlocked physical barrier that allows access," the department says.

Alternative measures, including well-understood maintenance safety procedures and ensuring workers do not have loose items of clothing, hair, jewellery or personal protective equipment may also be considered.

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