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Farm Accident: Potato Harvester Crushes Worker’s Leg


This potato harvester’s manufacturer warned: Before doing maintenance switch the engine
off and remove the ignition key. Two workers would find out why the hard way. The harvester is pulled behind a tractor,
powered by the power take-off, and is designed to function without workers. It has large rollers that separate rocks,
soil, and potato stems – debris also known as “haulm” – from the potatoes. Before working on this farm the two workers,
Worker 1 and Worker 2, had never seen a potato harvester. They were assigned to grease components and
change worn bearings of the haulm rollers. Although they had little training, they began
the work. When they finished, their supervisor started
up the tractor and harvester. Two of the back rollers were not turning. The supervisor directed Worker 2 to grease
the bearings and replace any malfunctioning parts. The supervisor turned off the tractor and
left the key in the ignition. He directed the workers to complete the tasks
and then left the area. The workers changed parts on one side of the
harvester. Worker 2 got into the tractor’s cab and
turned the key to start the tractor. He also activated the hydraulics powering
the haulm rollers. With the machine running, Worker 2 exited
the cab and went underneath the web conveyor to see if the rollers were turning. Worker 1 climbed on top of the machine to
visually check the rollers. He slipped. The unguarded rollers quickly pulled in his
leg, crushing it. He called for help. Worker 2 ran and turned off the tractor, stopping
the rollers. The supervisor and Worker 2 tried to free
Worker 1. 9-1-1 was called. Rescue workers, unable to cut through the
hardened steel components of the harvester, instead had to partially disassemble the machine. More than an hour later, the worker was freed. This accident could have been prevented. The employer should have had and implemented: 1. A health and safety program to identify
and address hazards 2. Safeguards The farm owner had the guards for covering
the haulm rollers but never installed them. 3. De-energization and lockout procedures Removing the key or disconnecting the power
take-off would have prevented the harvester from powering up. 4. Effective supervision, which would have
included checking that the workers were doing their jobs safely. And 5. Training for the workers, so that they
could understand the tasks and the hazards. The two workers were from Mexico and spoke
Spanish. Only Worker 2 knew a little English. Even if a language barrier exists, employers
are responsible for providing training in a language or manner that workers understand. With such limited training and experience,
the workers never should have been assigned to work on a machine that could be so dangerous. As an employer, know the hazards and protect
your workers from them.

67 Comments

  1. Lee Fowble Author

    I spent 30 years designing and servicing industrial equipment in the manufacturing, agricultural, and food processing industries.  Training and orientation on the equipment was on going, by my company and our customers.  In spite of that,  on dozens of occasions, I saw workers doing things that they had been warned about  numerous times before, sometimes with a warning sign in full view.  Of course, it seemed that they must have called their lawyer from the ambulance carting them to the hospital.  As the wise man said, "you can't cure stupid"!

    Reply
  2. YLW Pyro Author

    "To call tractor-related deaths and injuries 'accidents' would imply that they were inevitable; that they could not have been prevented. But the reality is that they can."

    Reply
  3. Popol P Author

    If you disconnect the PTO, you can't test the machine … The worker shouldn't have been on top of the machine … but it's the easiest way and you get a good overview … and then you slip into the machine. Worker 2 should also have stayed in the tractor to stop it when something happens (could even be to prevent damage happening to the machine … in this case, stop the machine from hurting the co-worker) 

    And there is always the factor "time is money". Everything has to go fast … and that's when it happens …

    Reply
  4. alford35 Author

    Come on now! I don't care what language the worker 1 & 2 spoke. Neither should have started the tractor and "then" turned the pto on and "then" walked across moving parts. Stupid mistakes but don't blame the farmer who did turn the machine off and never instructed them to do what they did. Sure, safety and training may have prevented this accident but I doubt it. It doesn't require much sense to stay away from heavy machinery that's moving and could deffinately chew someone up in a split second. Many many farmers that have operated and maintained their machines are fatally injured every year. All it takes is a split second of poor decision making which was obviously the case here. All the training in the world doesn't make stupid (not ignorance) any smarter. I don't care how ignorant worker 1 & 2 were to the equipment they obviously weren't blind and put themselves in a very stupid situation. Farmers are a dying bread because of people like the OP. Their earnings aren't enough for the risk (both monetary and physical) they take every year to pay for extensive training or to be baby sitters for the employees. They take huge risks every day/year hoping to put food on their families table but continuously bring in less profit year after year while providing the world with a means to survive.

    Rant over and quit blaming the owner of the farm who was generous enough to hire the non English speaking workers in the first place. An accident was lying in wait with these guys whether they were working for him or anyone else. Eventually stupid kills or comes close to it.

    Reply
  5. johndeerecasejcb Author

    yes the owner was in the wrong here I am not saying he isn't but he never told the workers to climb on the machine if the worker had checked from a safe distance he could of still done it.

    Reply
  6. Memo Memo Author

    it always training. They always use that as the reason to avoid such mistakes, how about NOT BEING A FCKING MORON. Dont take unnecessary risks.

    Reply
  7. Eastern Explorer Author

    We were working with a young girl on one of the older harvesters once and she had a loose sweat shirt on and it got caught in a set of gears and started pulling her in pretty fast but a fellow worker just happened to have a knife on his belt and he cut the sweat shirt off her just in time. She was one lucky gal.

    Reply
  8. CVillatoro11 Author

    From the looks of it, the owner of the equipment should have know every hazard and made sure no one would get hurt. Assume everyone is an idiot and will do the wrong thing.

    Reply
  9. Chad Baker Author

    My dad always had me climb up stuff and look at things when I was a kid. But I knew what parts to stay the hell away from because I know a 700hp diesel engine isn't going to care if you get caught in a gear or spinning shaft or press.

    Reply
  10. Richie Rich Author

    no, it's common sense. it has nothing to do with management, safety, ect. it's the guys fault for climbing into a running potato harvester. he's an idiot.

    Reply
  11. ObsessionPC Author

    how about you switch on the brain at work. Health and safety bullshit is half the problem here. Teach common sense into people by letting them touch the hotplate during their childhood.
    The idiot here is the guy climbing around on top of a machine with spinning components. NOBODY ELSE IS AT FAULT, ESPECIALLY NOT THE EMPLOYER.

    Reply
  12. James Boxall Author

    I have never seen one of these monstrous machines. Oh it has a giant roller system that’s exposed. I’d better climb on top and walk on the tiny bars while it’s running to check. What can go wrong?
    Common sense much?

    Reply
  13. tubester4567 Author

    Most of the recommendations dont apply here. Like guarding the machine is impractical when you are trying to fix it. You cant fix it with the guarding on. Removing the key wouldnt have helped because the operator went into the cab to start the machine. It wasnt an accidental start up. Even training wouldnt help here. The worker did something dumb.

    Reply
  14. Scummy Bagger Author

    Maybe it would have been helpful if the workers spoke English. Not sure if it should be employers responsibility to learn other languages to operate his American business IN AMERICA !!! But, obviously the employer was negligent in a number of areas as well !!!!! Probably including hiring CHEAP LABOR !!!!!

    Reply
  15. melvin martinez Author

    What the hell was he walk I'll ng on top when the machine was on? That's what happen when you hire cheap labor. It's the guys fault to walk on top and no one else's. Commen since guys,come on!

    Reply
  16. Element of Kindness Author

    Training. Pfft! I have no training on any farm equipment, but have the common sense to stay away from the moving parts. After all, if something small like a circular saw can mangle the shit out of you, what makes someone think a 15 ton piece of machinery is safe to play around?

    Reply
  17. Orlando Johnson Author

    One remove the key & get qualified workers to repair machine!!!! & train others who are to make repairs randomly too!!! Biggest mistake…Trying to save money with language barrier untrained personnel?!?!?!
    2. Disconnect the battery!!!
    3. Put the guard back on after
    Repair!!!!

    Some people don't have common sense & you should know who is mechanically inclined to make such repairs!!
    There's several types of workers!!!
    Manual labor, supervisors,& repairman!!!!
    You can't put manual labor workers on just anything,…. have u ever heard of skilled & unskilled workers?!?!

    And all repairs aren't just duct tape & bubble gum!!!

    I get tired of ppl thinking hvac is easy & my price too high?!

    Crawl under a rat infested house or climb a hot roof job or hot attic(120-140 degrees?!)…. then you'll understand why it cost so much!

    And people alway try to shop around for a cheaper price?!
    I'm glad I don't have to deal with certain individuals anymore because of all the Rigger Moro!!!!

    I have a list like Seinfeld soup episode!!!! No soup for you!!!!
    😂🤣😆

    Reply
  18. Drmcx Author

    NEVER come near heavy machinery parts in operation. What can catch WILL catch. Growing up on a farm, I've known this since childhood. And to think that modern farming equipment is much much larger and powerful than this one… Use your brains… It is not without reason that farming, construction and offshore are among the 3 most dangerous industries to be in. All 3 deal with heavy equipment.

    Reply
  19. dumb dumber Author

    "they never seen a potatoe harvester before…" yet they were quite comfortable stepping into the cab, starting it up and engaging the rollers. You can see in the cab there's a flat panel with a dozen or so controlls. How was the worker able to figure out which control would start the rollers ? Probably seen one before I'm thinking. Also the supervisor told them to greese the rollers and replace any parts, he did not tell them to start the machine and test it out. That's just according to what i seen in this video. Something doesn't really add up.

    Reply
  20. Mike D Author

    Protect your workers from the hazards? How about don't start a potato harvester and walk around on top of it while it is running. But, poor dude it took so long to get him out it must have been awful

    Reply
  21. Travis Ryno Author

    You take your own risks man. That fella chose to walk up there knowing full well the risk….He wasn't necessarily stupid, just a risk taker.

    Reply

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