Laundry worker barely survived crush incident at Kelowna General Hospital | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Laundry worker barely survived crush incident at Kelowna General Hospital

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August 17, 2016 - 10:37 AM

KELOWNA - Frantic efforts by coworkers to free a trapped laundry worker and then his treatment during a code blue response by the rest of Kelowna General Hospital is the main reason the man survived an August 2015 workplace incident.

An incident report obtained under Freedom of Information legislation from WorkSafeBC describes his coworkers running back and forth trying to get help and using brute force to try and free their colleague trapped between a laundry shuttle and a dryer.

During what was a routine procedure for unionized laundry workers — entering the moving laundry shuttle line to pick up dropped items — the victim suddenly became trapped. He had been crushed for about three seconds when the victim himself activated a stop cord on the shuttle.

A coworker came running but efforts to reset and move the shuttle failed so the coworker and a bystander threw themselves repeatedly at the shuttle, moving it slightly.

WorkSafeBC began its investigation two hours after it happened and concluded the workers involved in the incident, including the victim, were not trained in equipment de-energization or lockout, or what to do in in emergency.

Staff did not practice lock-out procedures during retrieval of items in order not to interrupt production and miss production goals.

As well, Kelowna General Hospital did not provide proper written materials describing the procedures and failed to regularly inspect the area where the incident took place.

It had last been inspected in April 2011 and had only been inspected twice since 2008.

According to WorkSafeBC, Interior Health Authority — which manages Kelowna General Hospital — has complied with all work orders issued in the aftermath of the incident.

Training was provided for supervisors and workers. An interim lockout program was developed that stops entry into the laundry perimeter area. Guard rails were upgraded for all laundry equipment and regular inspections have begun. Compliance with health and safety regulations has also been included as a performance indicator for workers and supervisors.

The report does not say if Interior Health Authority will face further sanctions for the incident.

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