An engineer was knocked to the ground when he was hit between the shoulder blades by a falling block of ice. The blow resulted in the engineer being taken to Hospital by ambulance for a short period of observation, and X-ray's. Luckily no bones had been broken but his back was bruised.
The accident happened during an operation to remove a large build-up of ice from the ceiling area at the rear of a cold store cooler. The cooler was situated approximately 10 metres above two forklift truck entrance doors.
The engineer's colleague, working from a specially built scaffold platform, was removing the ice. As the ice was being chiselled away, varying sizes of ice chippings were falling onto the platform, but some were also falling to the ground. In order to protect any passer-by from falling ice whilst work was in progress, it was necessary to prevent access around the platform. The injured engineer’s task was to control such access. Whilst doing so, from a position some 4 metres away from the base of the platform, a large block of ice fell from the ceiling. During its descent the block hit a scaffold cross-brace, which deflected it towards the engineer, who only had enough time to turn his back before the block struck him.
Clearly, this accident could have had more serious consequences.
Highlighted below are a number of groups or individuals who could be involved:
Sales engineers, clients, consultants and design engineers
• Coolers placed above doors will ice.
• Permanent access will aid safety and routine cooler maintenance.
• Poorly fitting or maintained doors will allow moisture ingress to the store, leading to icing!
• Poor door control will allow moisture ingress!
Client & Maintenance Contractor
• Must work together to produce an effective risk assessment, which includes all practicable safety measures.
• Stop work if you recognise that extra controls are needed to make the work safe.
• Remove ice before a large amount has formed – be vigilant.
• Defrosting effectiveness should be regularly monitored and adjusted if required.
• Ensure that a risk assessment is in place before commencing work.