Winch signs pose danger in schoolyard
Winch signs are a common sight in many school yards across the country, with their colourful and interchangeable lettering announcing the latest school happenings. However, Worksafe QLD warns these signs can pose a hidden danger to the safety of students and staff.
Multiple instances have been reported of the upper part of winch (or wind up) signs falling rapidly and, on some occasions, injuring persons operating or in the vicinity of the sign. With the upper part of these signs weighing as much as 70 kilograms, death or serious injury is a real concern should an incident occur and, as such, ensuring proper maintenance and operation of these signs is essential.
Winch signs typically have plastic covers to protect their mechanisms from corrosion, although this often conceals potential faults from view. Compounding this is the concern that some schools do not maintain these signs regularly enough. Worksafe reports that some winch signs are in use for as long as 15 years without proper maintenance.
Manufacturers of older winch signs have also recommended that emergency brake systems be upgraded to improve safety.
A serious incident was reported recently at a school in Caboolture where a worker was struck on the head after part of a winch sign fell rapidly. Fortunately the incident did not result in serious injury; however it highlights a key concern with winch signs: that a person will not have adequate time to get out of the way if part of the sign falls suddenly.
Worksafe QLD urges that students or children are not permitted to operate these signs, even if properly maintained, due to the care that needs to be taken to operate signs safely.