Severe Accident at ORNL Excess Property Sales
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

Date: 

Topics:  Occupational Safety and Health, Operations, Training and Qualification, Work Management/Planning, Material Handling/Storage

Lesson Learned: Inexperience and ineffective communication among workers/supervision can lead to serious injuries while moving heavy items. Missed opportunities to effectively use work processes, lack of communication of previous issues and inadequate recognition of risks can lead to legacy hazards being passed down to your fellow employees. In this event, a worker was severely injured during a material handling task.

On March 31, 2014, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) employee was severely injured when a 1,585 lb. scattering chamber on a stand with wheels overturned while it was being moved down a ramp into the bed of a box truck. The scattering chamber assembly was 65 inches tall and had a high center of gravity. The work activity was to load the scattering chamber and stand into a privately-owned truck after it was sold as excess equipment at auction. Two Salvage Handlers were moving the scattering chamber - one Salvage Handler was behind the chamber as they guided it down the slightly inclined (6.25%) loading ramp and the other Salvage Handler was in the fall zone in the direction of motion. When the leading wheels reached the transition between the loading ramp and the truck bed, the scattering chamber tipped over and onto the Salvage Handler in the path of travel, pinning him underneath. Staff from within the facility responded immediately, removed the scattering chamber from the injured employee, and rendered aid. The employee sustained fractures to his lower legs, a broken right thumb, and several lacerations. A full investigation of the accident and activities leading up to it was conducted. This accident was determined to be preventable by the investigation team.

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