Serious Harm – Breaking-out!


Background – Noggin INC1281 20/08/18

A breaking-out team of 3 had just completed a line change.  The head breaker-out (HBO) positioned himself 17-meters behind the block as he observed the tail rope passing through before re-starting extraction.

A piece of log was disturbed by the returning rope and slid down the rope gaining momentum. The piece of wood eventually end-for-ended toward the HBO and struck him fracturing his arm, dislocating his elbow and puncturing his lung.

Qualifications and Experience – 10 years plus; L4 Unit 1258 – Coordinate breaking-out for a cable harvesting operation; L4 Unit 17771 Carry out line shifts in a cable harvesting operation.

Immediate and Root Cause Factors – The HBO was undertaking a standard practice – observing the safe functioning of the working block prior to re-starting.

Technically speaking, the HBO was standing in a safe position to do this observation.  However, the contact (and subsequent injury) points to the need for a safer observation position and guidelines to direct the thinking of the breaker-outs in such circumstances. This work will be completed as a project.

Zero Tolerance Committee Project – Components:

  • Secure two Contractors and a team of HBO’s – to review and comment on this incident. Consider options that would make the ‘observation position’ safer – including tools e.g. binoculars or drones. 
  • Develop a guidance document for working around blocks.
  • Gain wider/regional approval (through the Zero Tolerance Committee) to publish the project results – for example as an addition to the Safe OP – Safe Retreat Position.

View this article in Safety Bulletin 115