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Leg injury when struck by rebounding hammer

What happened

A crew member was struck on the right lower leg (the shin) by a rebounding hammer.  The incident occurred when he was using the hammer to remove a stainless steel securing pin on the brake band drum of a tugger winch.  He was using the hammer and other equipment to remove a stainless steel securing pin, which was positioned at knee height on the brake band drum.  The pin was moving both ways a little, but required more lubrication.  Spray lubricant was applied and was working through the pin mounts.  The crew member was striking the pin out using the hammer; one blow missed the pin, rebounded back and struck his right lower leg, causing a small cut and bruising above the ankle.

What went wrong?

  • He was in the line of fire – his leg was so positioned as to be hit when the hammer rebounded;
  • The arc / swing of the hammer onto the pin required precision to avoid striking to the side, which resulted in uncontrolled rebound of the hammer in an undesired direction

What went right

  • A Toolbox Talk and Operational Risk assessments had taken place before starting work;
  • All correct PPE was being worn at the time of the incident occurring

What were the causes?

  • Immediate causes
    • He hit the pin in such as way as to cause the hammer to rebound in an uncontrolled direction;
    • His leg was in the way. 
  • Root Causes
    • Inadequate continuous risk assessment
      • The crew member did not identify the potential hammer miss-hit and rebound direction of the hammer during the activity;
      • The risk assessment did not identify the required body position to ensure it was not in the line of fire.
    • STOP Work Authority
      • No “Stop Work” and review the activity was undertaken during the tasks to evaluate the controls being implemented and the possible requirement to improve (by the individual or others).

Lessons learned

  • Deeper and more thorough consideration of what “Line of Fire” can mean – are you in your own line of fire?
  • Check with your colleagues before starting – is this safe, could I do this in a better way?
  • STOP the job if you think it is unsafe, and put the right controls in place to make sure no-one is harmed.

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 6 May 2021
Download: IMCA SF 13/21

Relevant life-saving rules:
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