The forestry and agriculture industry continues to be among the most dangerous work environments as based on SafeWork fatality figures. This week, one Queensland forestry worker narrowly avoided adding to those statistics after his leg became entangled in a cable winch of a forestry skidder machine on a rural Queensland worksite.
While it’s unclear exactly how the man became entangled, his leg was trapped in a cable winch up to his hip while dragging tree logs using ropes and changes and was unable to free himself. Attending emergency services workers performed a required traumatic surgical amputation to free the worker.
Skidders are used in forest harvesting operations for “snigging” cut trees or logs. An attachment, such as a large grapple or winch cable, is attached to the rear of the skidder and used to pull cut trees or logs to a collection point.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has reinforced that operators must always be aware and alert when using the winch as this fitted part is extremely powerful and can, at times, pull the skidder backwards.
WHSQ has reminded PCBUs that their duties include ensuring: the provision and maintenance of safe plant; and the inspection and maintenance of the plant is carried out by a competent person in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Since 2013, there has been an average of 22 accepted workers’ compensation claims each year for injuries relating to being trapped by mobile plant within the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries – and 50 per cent of these claims involve serious injuries with five or more days off work.
In the same period, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has been notified of 59 incidents involving mobile plant within the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries.