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Worker entangled in chain falling from dismantled conveyor

Date of incident: January 2014
Notice of incident number: 2014140710013
Employer: Construction company

Incident summary
Three workers were dismantling an old de-barker inside a sawmill as a part of a sawmill upgrade. The job required the removal of a chain weighing 700 pounds (318 kilograms). The conveyor deck was at a height above a concrete floor. The workers began pulling the chain up onto the conveyor deck. They were stacking it as one continuous piece. When the last 5 feet (1.5 metres) of chain was pulled around the tail drum, the weight of the chain caused it to start falling to the ground below. One worker was caught by the falling chain and fell 22 feet (6.7 metres) to the concrete floor, sustaining severe injuries.

Investigation conclusions

  • Chain was not secured from inadvertent movement: The workers pulled the conveyor chain up and onto the conveyor top pan without tying it back to prevent any inadvertent movement that would cause it to fall to the floor below. A worker was seriously injured when he became caught in the chain as it slipped over the edge of the conveyor platform and fell 22 feet (6.7 metres) to the concrete floor below.

Underlying factors

  • Not using fall protection: The worker who fell had not tied off his fall protection harness. The employer had a policy and procedures in place for the use of fall protection and had reminded the workers of that policy at a toolbox meeting on the morning of the incident.
  • Weight of chain created unforeseen hazard: The supervisors did not conduct a full risk assessment or identify the hazards involved in the task of removing the conveyor chain. One supervisor told the workers to cut the chain into small, manageable pieces for disposal. After analyzing the de-barker, two workers decided to move the chain as one piece. The workers did not understand that there would be fewer hazards performing the task if the chain was cut into pieces, failing to recognize the hazard caused by the weight of the chain.

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Publication Date: Jan 2014 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2014140710013