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Worker’s lower arm amputated after reaching into energized recycling conveyor

Date of incident: September 2015
Notice of incident number: 2015177470065
Employer: Recycling company

Incident summary:
A young worker was working at the sorting table of a gypsum recycling operation. When the infeed conveyor belt did not start up, he knelt down and looked into an unguarded space at the tail spool. He saw some metal stuck between the lower infeed conveyor belt and the tail spool. The worker decided to turn off the switch and remove the metal. As he started to stand up, the infeed conveyor belt motor suddenly turned on. His arm was pulled into the conveyor belt and the lower arm amputated.

Investigation conclusions


  • Exposure to a rotating hazard: While the worker was attempting to remove a piece of metal, his arm was caught between the tail spool and the infeed conveyor belt when the equipment suddenly started up.

Contributing factors

  • Insufficient guarding on the sorting equipment: A lack of guarding around the infeed conveyor belt and tail spool enabled the worker to access a dangerous pinch point.
  • Inadequate training of workers: The workers and supervisors were not adequately trained in lockout or the safety aspects of the equipment. As a result, the worker failed to recognize the hazard of working in proximity to the infeed tail spool.
  • Lack of specific work procedures: There were no specific safe work procedures, including lockout procedures, to prepare the worker to operate or to do maintenance on the sorting system.

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Publication Date: Jan 2019 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2015177470065