Power tool incident kills construction worker

Wednesday, 25 August, 2021

Power tool incident kills construction worker

A Brisbane construction worker died after using an unguarded angle grinder.

In June 2021, the man was using a 9-inch angle grinder to cut a structural steel member at a commercial construction site, when a shard of metal struck him in the neck.

SafeWork Queensland is still investigating the incident and will determine the exact cause.

It appears a small metal shard was violently ejected from the cutting work and struck his neck. No guarding was fitted to the angle grinder at the time.

Master Electricians Australia said that if a PCBU or a supervisor is aware of powered tools being operated without proper guarding or safety measures in place and someone dies using it, the PCBU or supervisor could face prosecution and potential prison time.

Angle grinders have been involved in many serious incidents before this one, including fatalities. Common injuries are amputated fingers, severed tendons and deep cuts to the face, upper body or legs. Incidents involving angle grinders can occur in all industry sectors.

The increased power and size of a 9-inch (230 mm) angle grinder can cause more severe kickback and gyroscopic effect as the grinder is more difficult to control than smaller grinders. It’s important to note that a risk assessment to identify alternative methods and tools should be carried out prior to selecting a larger angle grinder.

According to Master Electricians Australia, administrative control measures and PPE rely on human behaviour and supervision, and used on their own, tend to be least effective in minimising risks. The control measures put in place should be reviewed regularly to make sure they work as planned.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Maksim Kostenko

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