SafeWork SA Inspectors recently attended an incident involving a worker who was struck in the head by the spring loaded mechanism (arm) that raises and lowers the wheels on a portable field bin.

Due to heavy rains, the circular base of the field bin had sunk in the paddock which appears to have created a “suction-effect” on the base of the bin. When the worker attempted to raise the wheels of the bin, the handle, which is under spring tension (stored energy), has sprung back rapidly with high force striking the worker in the head.

Using lever handles

The raising and lowering mechanism is designed to utilise operator strength and may have an adjustable tensioned spring to provide additional assistance.

During the bin raising stage, as the lever is turned, it will reach a point where the weight of the bin (and spring force – if fitted) will maintain the bin in the lifted position.

The operator must position themselves out of the way of the detachable lever in case it releases or kicks back.

A locking pin must be installed into the bin axle for transportation. While this is a required action, it may place the operator directly in line with the tensioned detachable lever, should the operator lose control of the detachable lever and/or the bin moves.

Portable field bin in a paddock

Possible causes of incidents

Incidents may occur if:

  • a field bin with a spring assisted mechanism to lower or raise the bin is incorrectly handled
  • a worker is positioned directly in line with the tensioned detachable lever used to raise the field bin for transportation
  • the lever handle is not firmly secured and/or controlled to prevent movement.

Safety solutions

To reduce the risks of incidents and injuries occurring:

  • only raise or lower the field bin when empty
  • ensure the lever is firmly secured to the bin lifting mechanism or removed prior to installing the locking pin
  • never hold the lever down by standing on it
  • follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines regarding safe use
  • develop and implement safe lifting/lowering procedures (including for wheel maintenance), in consultation with workers
  • consider using alternative methods of raising the bins, such as the use of winches or hydraulic lifts
  • contact the manufacturer and enquire if a suitable modification kit is available and if so, have it fitted by a competent person.

Lever on a field bin

SafeWork SA reminds business owners to ensure the wheel mechanism, and other components on portable field bins, are maintained in accordance with the manufacturers requirements.

Owners of portable field bins need to ensure that workers are trained in the safe operation of the field bins wheel mechanism and that a safe system of work has been implemented to minimise the risk of injury.