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JICOSH Home > Case Studies > Case No.23
Case No.23

Trapped by a belt conveyor while trying to retrieve a dropped tool during periodic incinerator inspection and repair work

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[Circumstances of Incident]

The accident, which occurred during periodic inspection and repair work at an incineration facility, involved work to remove ash deposited on the brick lining of the exhaust-gas cooling tower.

On the day of the accident, the victim and his foreman had assembled a scaffold inside the cooling tower in order to carry out ash removal work on the chute at a bottom of the cooling tower. They were standing on the scaffold and using chippers to remove ash deposits. At the time, a screw fastening the chisel blade to the working edge of the chipper was loosened by the vibration of the scraping work, allowing the blade to fall under the belt conveyer located below. The victim stepped down from the scaffold to retrieve the dropped blade. As the workers had left the belt conveyor running to carry away the loosened ash deposits, however, the victim was killed when he was caught between the supporting framework and the scraper blades of the belt conveyer.


The following can be cited as the direct causes of this accident.

1 It is assumed that the victim entered into the conveyer area without stopping the belt conveyor to retrieve the dropped chisel blade that had fallen beneath the belt. As the conveyer was being operated at slow speed, he evidently was confident that he would not be caught by the scrapers.

2 There had been other cases in the past when tools such as chisel blades, etc., had fallen during such work, and workers had no other choice but to approach the belt conveyor to retrieve such items. While the manager of the general contractor and the foreman in the victim's workplace had told workers to "be certain to stop the belt conveyor while working near it," specific directions were not given to the workers involved, nor had standard operating procedures been drawn up.

3 Moreover, while the foreman was told that the victim would be approaching the conveyer, he did not instruct the victim to stop the conveyer.

4 Despite the fact that the chisel blade of the chipper was easily prone to come loose because of the vibration and similar phenomena occurred several times a day, no efforts were made to improve the tool or to take measures to prevent such items from falling from the scaffold.

[Type of business] Other construction
[Type of accident]Caught
[Number of victims]One fatality