During pipelay operations, two non-destructive testing (NDT) technicians were handling a ‘scanner belt’, which is used to connect the automated ultrasonic testing (AUT) scanner to the pipe for testing pipeline welds. On completion of weld testing, the scanner belt (approx. 10kg) was released by one of the technicians, and it ‘slipped off’ the pipe and made contact with the other technician’s wrist. This resulted in a laceration which required 8 stitches. The injured person was wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE). However, the scanner belt made contact with his wrist which was exposed through the gap between the coverall-sleeve and glove.
What went wrong? What were the causes?
- The equipment design did not account for sharp edges and potential risks during manual handling;
- Personnel involved in the task did not identify the potential for exposure to sharp edges on equipment, and had perceived the task as ‘routine’;
- The injured person did not have clear communication or eye contact with the other technician who released the scanner belt. It was also found that language barriers between the technicians contributed to poor communication;
- The injured person’s coverall sleeve had ‘crept up’ when his arms were reached out, exposing his wrist to contact with equipment.
What actions were taken? What lessons were learned?
- Review of tasks that involve repetitive manual handling of equipment, to ensure that potential sharp-edge hazards are identified and appropriately controlled;
- Communicate safe manual handling techniques for tasks that involve more than one person dealing with equipment at the same time. This should include focus on good communications to prevent loss of control;
- Review of similar tasks and associated PPE controls, to identify potential exposure to forearms or wrists, when arms extending outwards or upwards. Consider use of cut proof arm protection, as shown in images above;
- Reinforce the need for the continual review of controls associated with ‘routine’ tasks, during toolbox talks (TBT) and hazard inspections.
Members may wish to refer to the following:
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