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FACEValue: Landscaper dies after auger entanglement

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Case report: #15WA02901*
Issued by: Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program*
Date of incident: July 2014

A landscaper died after entering the hopper of a bark blower truck and becoming entangled in its rotating auger system. The bark blower truck’s pressure sensors, designed to shut down the conveyor belt when the auger system experienced too much pressure, were broken. Because of the broken sensors, the hopper’s bulk material would bridge over the conveyor belt, forming a tunnel. When tunneling occurred, material would not flow into the feeder and workers were unable to blow the material through the hopper. It had become accepted to have workers inside the hopper standing on bulk material, using a pitchfork to move material into the blower system. The supervisor and another laborer heard a clunking noise coming from the truck and bark stopped flowing through the hose. The victim was found dead, entangled in the stir rod of the auger system.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Conduct job hazard assessments of machinery, processes and tasks to identify potential hazards.
  • Develop, implement and enforce a written incident prevention program, written standard operating procedures that are specific to bark blower truck operations, a comprehensive written hazardous energy control program that includes a lockout/tagout procedure, and a comprehensive written program detailing procedures for safe entry into or work in permit-required confined spaces.
  • Maintain machinery and equipment in safe operating condition.
  • Affix labels to equipment containing graphics providing hazard warnings and instructions for the safe use of equipment.
  • Ensure young workers and inexperienced workers are adequately trained and supervised.

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