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Ways to Prevent Injuries When Equipment Moves Unexpectedly

There are lots of ways to measure your movement – step, stairs, running, walking – but let’s talk about the times you should be aware of movement, the unexpected kind. 

Unexpected movement can cause serious injury, especially if you think something is stable when it is not.

You can use an accident/near miss investigation to identify the root cause and to correct poor practices before someone gets hurt.

Some examples of unexpected movements are:

  • Preventing movement by chocking vehicles such as forklift trucks, semis, and even non-powered items such as wheelbarrows. 
  • Setting brakes on railcars or using derailers.
  • Belt drift in a bucket elevator.
  • Drift on a caged elevator or manlift.
  • Removing or releasing the last bolt in a "line of fire incident."
  • Pipe, conduit, or stock rolling off a truck or rack.
  • Hoisting materials.

Inhibiting Movement

The brakes of highway trucks must be set and wheel chocks placed under the rear wheels to prevent the trucks from rolling, while they are loaded or unloaded. 

Fixed jacks may be necessary to support a semi trailer to prevent upending, when it is not coupled to a tractor.

With railcars, wheel stops or other recognized positive protection should be provided to prevent movement during loading or unloading.

Remember that bridge plates are required for rail.  

Belt drift in bucket elevators is another place where there is potential unexpected movement, especially when removing buckets. 

The gearbox may not be able to hold the belt still, which could result in drift.

Keeping the belt balanced by removing buckets systematically to keep the leg balanced will help minimize the drift.

Just as you don’t want drift in a bucket elevator for grain, you don’t want drift in a manlift. Belt manlifts should be inspected weekly.

A suggested inspection checklist is provided in OSHA 1910.68.

Caged elevator lifts also should be inspected frequently.

OSHA does not have a specific standard for caged manlifts; however, there is an ASME standard A.17.1 that OSHA may use as a basis for a General Duty citation (Section 5.A.1)

Watch Out for Cranes

Cranes and hoisting requires a watchful eye and good communication. 

A failure of the crane or hoist could result in dropping the intended load.

Having well-maintained and inspected slings, ropes, chains, and mesh, as well as employees knowledgeable in rigging and working with this equipment, how to load and calculate lift angles, and the effect of these on lifting capacity.

OSHA has published an excellent document on this topic:

Keep a safe walk path that avoids travel under a suspended load, and have a spotter to intervene, if someone is in the hoisting zone.

Receiving and unloading stock, pipe, or conduit presents the potential hazard of the load shifting in transit.

Assume that the material is no longer stable and will roll, once you release the straps or banding.

Sadly, not planning the safe way to receive and store this material can result in serious and often fatal accidents.

Source: Lynn Larsen, president of Safety Solutions Inc., a safety consulting firm in Knoxville, TN; 701-261-9587.


This Safety Tip of the Week is sponsored by: M&M Specialty Services



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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