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Farm Accident: Potato Harvester Amputates Worker’s Forearm


Safeguarding prevents access to dangerous
moving parts in machinery. Failure to implement safeguarding on this
potato harvester cost a farm worker her forearm. The farm used an old potato harvester pulled
by a tractor and powered through the power take-off. One worker stood on each side of the harvester
to remove potato tops and potatoes from the conveyor while two more workers on the back
collected potatoes, putting them into a bucket. A fifth worker followed and picked up any
potatoes left on the ground. It was cold the day of the incident. Worker 1 wore two pairs of gloves — an inner knitted pair and an outer pair with rubberized palms. She had reported to the farmer that the outer
pair was too large. Smaller gloves had been ordered but had not
yet arrived. Four workers were on the harvester. Workers 1 and 2 were on the back picking potatoes
off the moving conveyor. A potato fell to the bottom part of the conveyor. When Worker 1 reached in to retrieve it, her
glove got caught in the conveyor. She couldn’t remove her hand from the glove. Workers 1 and 2 called the farmer to stop
the machine. He did, but with the stored energy, the conveyor
kept moving. Worker 1’s arm became entangled between
the conveyor and a steel sprocket. 9-1-1 was called. The local fire chief arrived and called in
another fire department which had training in extricating people from farm machinery. Eventually the worker was freed, but the injuries
would result in the amputation of her forearm. It took 1 1/2 hours after the initial 9-1-1
call before the worker arrived at the hospital. Employers, including farms, must keep up-to-date
written procedures for providing first aid and for arranging emergency transport. The primary cause of this accident was the
failure to have adequate safeguarding. If you examine the equipment, you can see
numerous components that could catch body parts and cause injury. Lack of training, instruction, and supervision
also contributed to this accident. The farmer didn’t have the training to recognize
hazards nor adequate knowledge of the safety requirements for the workplace. As a result, the workers weren’t given the
training or supervision necessary to ensure their safety. The gloves were also a factor. Too big, they increased the chance of getting
caught in machinery. Wearing the second pair of gloves likely made
it more difficult for Worker 1 to free her hand once it was caught. Hundreds of farm workers are caught in or entangled with farm machinery in Canada every year. Prevent injuries on your farm – know when
and where to use safeguarding.

18 Comments

  1. Kitty Cat Author

    This negligence is appalling in industry!
    Totally avoidable serious injuries devastate the victim for life.
    Disgustingly poor excuses for clearly obvious dangers never void responsibility.
    These companies and foreman need to be held accountable.
    Its so clearly obvious this equipment is a violation of safety with no guards and open hazards.
    I personally have seen all to often serious safety violations take a back seat to production.
    This must stop!!!

    Reply
  2. boardingpass04 Author

    I grew up running stuff like this on a farm, never stick your hands were they shouldn't be and you will be fine some people just don't have the common sense

    Reply
  3. Orlando Johnson Author

    Poor lady?! Guards should be in place & training!!!

    If a potato is caught here…. let it go!!!! Do not reach in this area!? Simple as that ?!!!

    Reply
  4. tubester4567 Author

    That machine is a death trap and should have been guarded. Its even more dangerous how the machine is constantly moving, and the ground is not flat. Everybody knows you cant have unguarded sprockets and chains even in a stationary environment. The farmer was negligent.

    Reply
  5. UKMike2009 Author

    I used to work in the machine guarding industry in the UK. Hopefully lessons have been learned from this incident, but sadly not everyone takes action to prevent things like this happening.

    Reply
  6. Mario Lisa Author

    That must have been one monster of a potato for her to even bother bending down to get it, let alone stick her hand into moving farmyard machinery to get it. I would have most likely thought “Meh one potato out of 1000, I may process today? I’ll leave it” even without seeing this video

    Reply

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