Blog Post #573 – Worker Pulled into Harvester

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A worker suffered crushing injuries on August 23, 2011 after being drawn into a potato harvesting machine at Hothi Farms Inc. in Delta, British Columbia.

At about 10 am, 2011, the worker was doing maintenance on the potato harvester when he got caught in the machine’s rollers, confirms Donna Freeman, WorkSafeBC’s director of media relations.

Acting Sgt. Paul Eisenzimmer, a spokesperson for the Delta Police Department, reports that the 30-year-old worker “slipped” on the machine, resulting in his right leg being drawn into the equipment up to his hip.

Responders from Delta Fire and Emergency Services extricated the worker, who was subsequently flown by air ambulance to a hospital in New Westminster. Although no bones were broken, “there is a concern that the damage sustained by the muscles and tissues in his leg may lead to further complications,” Eisenzimmer notes in a statement.

The farm worker, a Mexican citizen working in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, remained in the hospital overnight for observation.

Pull-in injuries can occur any time there is an attempt to remove something from a machine while it is running, Notes 8 2006 potato harvester safety report from the University of Maine and Orono. The report makes these recommendations:

• avoid wearing clothing that is loose, angles or flocks;
• where skid-resistant shoes and tight-fitting gloves, and secure long hair;
• never mount a harvester while the machine is in motion;
• clean trash out of belts when they are stationary; and
• do not lubricate, adjust or repair the harvester while it is running.

My opinion

This is not the first time I have read articles about migrant workers being injured or killed on the job. It seems that safety goes out the window as soon as non-Canadian workers are on the job. The same type of issue happened in Ontario and the Metron swing-stage scaffold accident is a prime example of what could happen when people foreign to this country are not aware of the safety laws that apply and are made to work in unsafe conditions.

The ‘Harvester’ concern should’ve driven changes on the maintenance side of the work being accomplished. A maintenance man should never been placed at risk and all maintenance should’ve been completed with all aspects of safety incorporated into a set of safe work operating procedures. Only then can we drive down the number of accidents the more safety has been added to the process.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Farming Safety’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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