Hand Injury

Safety Alert: Hand Injury

Safety Alert No: 48

Date: 29 August 2013

An EGT apprentice recently had the tip of their left middle finger crushed after reaching in to brush some soil stuck close to the sprocket on the track of a mini excavator whilst the track was still moving.

The result of the injury after initial treatment, involving an operation to shave 3-4mm from the bone with a skin graft, was selective amputation of the tip if the finger as the bone was necrotic (dead) and the recovery period was guaranteed to be shorter, rather than a series of subsequent surgeries to again remove part of the bone and have more skin grafts.

It is recommended that before working on or around mobile plant that training is given by a competent person to identify the risks and hazards associated with working on or around mobile plant.

The training should include but is not limited to communication between the plant operator and other relevant personnel, hazards that personnel could be exposed to while the plant is operating, how and when to approach mobile plant and traffic management.

It is a legislative requirement that a SWMS is completed before plant is to be operated on a high risk construction site. Apprentices must also document this work in their RAC before commencement of works to ensure that there is documented proof of their personal risk assessment.

Remember, personal vigilance is critical for keeping yourself and others safe, particularly when mobile plant is involved. Body parts must never be exposed to unguarded moving machinery parts; in most cases the machine will always win the battle between saving time and injury! In this particular case, a few seconds of not waiting and communicating with the plant operator resulted in many hours of investigation and many weeks of medical treatment and injury management not to mention the loss of a body part!!

Download a PDF copy of this Safety Alert.