Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has issued a new hazard alert on the unloading of free-flowing materials. When unloading free-flowing granular material (e.g. grain, pellets, flour, wood shavings, sand, track ballast, etc.) with a dump trailer equipped with a swinging gate, or those with a grain hatch, the free-flowing material can become clumped or stuck at the top of the container when the trailer is raised. Stuck cargo can suddenly come loose at any time with enough force to tear off the gate and its attachments, especially if the wing nuts or fasteners are missing, not closed, locked or torqued enough. Under such force, an employee standing behind the trailer may be struck by broken pieces or the gate itself, or be thrown against a wall or to the ground. The load can also pour out so quickly that it buries the employee, who may be suffocated or crushed as a result. Any employee standing in the hazard zone can suffer severe or fatal injuries.
Factors that can lead to an accident, death or injury while unloading free-flowing material include:
- The force exerted by the free-flowing material, depending on the characteristics of the product, on the sides of the trailer;
- Missing, open, unlocked or insufficiently torqued wing nuts or fasteners;
- Sudden release of the free-flowing material load; and
- The position of an employee in the hazard zone, for example directly behind the trailer when it is raised.
The Hazard Alert goes on to discuss the ways these kinds of accidents can be mitigated. For more information, click here: WD-HazardAlert-UnloadingFreeFlowingMaterial_public