As a result of two fatalities and one serious harm incident over the last three years involving tractor-towed harvesters, PNZ has formed a H&S Committee. It was agreed to appoint a Chartered Professional Engineer (Jack Mains/Mainmech) to help growers understand the current WorkSafe standards around guarding.
2.0 Mainmech Report – Potato Harvester Machine Guarding Assessment:
Maintech was appointed to initially assess the current state of machine guarding and participate in a series of 6 seminars with Potatoes NZ and growers between 24 – 30th Aug 2018. A comprehensive report was presented by Jack on 12th Sept.
The results of the site visits and assessments are based on a small sample, only a snapshot in time and not necessarily representative of all growers or brands.
While guarding was the primary focus, the following hazards and their associated risk (severity & likelihood) were identified.
- Guarding of mechanical moving parts/machinery
- Emergency stop buttons (E-Stops)
- Access/egress of mobile plant/machinery
- Material ejection
3.0 Improvement Programme and Trials
It is recommended that growers urgently commense their improvement programme to ensure all guards are fitted including full guarding of PTOs (power take off) and that as safe practice, guards are not removed unless machinery is stopped.
(1) Grower initiated improvements – The significant guarding hazards identified have been prioritised according to ease of implementation, until engineering solutions are available from the guarding upgrade trial(s)
a. Short term (say 1-2 wks)
- Reinstate original manufacturers guarding
- Full PTO guarding to be fitted, to the main drive from tractor to harvester and any other similar on-harvester drives
- Stop machine before removing any guards
- Reinstate original manufacturers fall prevention barriers & signage
- If your machinery pre-dates guarding devices, it is recommended that you contract an engineer to manufacture a guarding device that mirrors current standards. Approaching a machinery supplier, might be a good starting point for missing accessories also
b. Medium term (say several mths)
- Implement relevant solution options from New or Old equipment trials – older backup equipment would have a lower priority than its newer replacement, but backup machines should not be used until upgraded/modified.
(2) PNZ H&S Actions:
(a) Older machine guarding upgrade trial – Jack/Mainmech & Nigel/Landpower to meet with 1 – 2 volunteer growers with relatively older tractor-towed harvesters and embark on an upgrade programme to meet current WorkSafe standards then report back to grower members on practicable options and costs.
(b) Newer machine guarding upgrade trial – Jack/Mainmech & Nigel/Landpower to meet with 1 – 2 volunteer growers with relatively newer tractor-towed harvesters and embark on an upgrade programme to meet current WorkSafe standards then report back to grower members on practicable options and costs.
Qualified chartered professional engineers will be available in all potato growing regions to assist harvester owners to assess guarding requirements and provide certification against the requirements of Codes of Practice and Standards. Certification of equipment, either by the manufacturer or a CPEng, is the best evidence of compliance available.
While not included in the current scope of this advisory, self-propelled machines are yet to be considered/assessed. The current priority is tractor-towed harvesters. It must not be inferred from this that self-propelled harvesters are fully compliant. In fact, this is unlikely and owners should undertake their own assessments until further information is available.
WorkSafe recently indicated that the lack of guarding identified during the Aug 2018 site visit seminars means some harvesters should not be used and would warrant a Prohibition Notice being issued.
Potatoes NZ has also engaged a H&S consultant on a short term contract to provide assistance to growers to help implement safety activities as a means of ensuring worker participation in H&S matters and improve worker safety culture.
5.0 Summary for growers
- Attend to points 3.1 a & b, by ensuring your guarding is in place. Reinstate old guarding or install new guarding.
- Bring all staff up-to-speed with recommendations in points 3.1 a & b.
- Contact PNZ Health & Safety person John Buse with any technical questions.
Ph 021-633-721 Jbuseconsulting@gmail.com