WorkSafeBC Home

Worker pulled into rollers of potato harvester

Two workers were assigned mechanical maintenance tasks on a large, mechanized potato harvester. While the harvester was running, one of the workers climbed on top to check the rollers. He slipped and fell onto the unguarded rollers. The worker was trapped for more than one hour and sustained serious injuries as a result of the incident.

Findings as to causes
  • Equipment energized during maintenance work. While the potato harvester was running, one worker climbed on top where he slipped and was pulled into hazardous moving parts.
  • Missing safeguards: Guards to cover the rollers had not been installed on the equipment.
Findings as to underlying factors
  • Lack of supervision: Neither the farmer nor the supervisor had training in the employer's or the supervisor's health and safety responsibilities.
  • Lack of worker training: Lack of training in safe work procedures exposed workers to hazards that they were likely unaware of.
  • No health and safety program: If the required program had been in place, there would have been appropriate safe work procedures for de-energization as well as inspection of the workplace for hazardous conditions, such as the missing safeguards.
Other findings
  • Workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program may feel obligated to perform work they have not been trained to do when directed to do so by their employer. They may not be aware of their rights.
  • Entrapment in farm machinery poses a significant challenge for rescue workers. Their cutting tools may not be able to cut the machinery for extrication. Rescue workers need training to determine what components must be taken apart to free a worker and to ensure that rescuers are not placed at risk of injury.

Slide show

Publication Date: Aug 2011 File type: PDF (755 KB) Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2011144570134