Scrap metal workers fatally injured

In two separate recent incidents, workers in the scrap metal industry have received fatal injuries after being struck by falling loads.  Both incidents involved using oxy-cutters to cut large pieces of scrap metal into smaller pieces so they could be more easily handled and transported.  

In the first incident, a worker was cutting up a truck which had two unsecured truck trays resting on top of the chassis.  The worker was underneath the trays while oxy-cutting the truck’s suspension.  The load shifted, and the trays weighing approximately 2 tonnes, slipped from the chassis, crushing the worker.

In the second incident, a worker was oxy-cutting a large bucket from an excavator that stood above head height.  The worker was crushed when an 800kg piece of the upper part of the bucket he was cutting broke away from the main structure and fell on him.

Contributing factor

  • Inadequate risk assessments prior to commencing the tasks.
  • Oxy-cutting underneath unrestrained loads.
  • Weight of the unsecured loads was sufficient to cause fatal injuries.

Action required

  1. Never place yourself or allow anyone else in the drop zone of an unrestrained load.
  2. Conduct an appropriate risk assessment for all work to be undertaken, including individual job safety analyses.
  3. Develop written safe work procedures for oxy-cutting oversize items, and detailed cut plans for any cutting job where there is a risk of pieces falling.
  4. Instruct and train workers in safe cutting procedures and ensure competency.

Further information

Last updated 14 Jul 2016

Last modified: