(Western Australia) The Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter uses a piece of heavy
machinery called a screw feeder, a large cast-iron tube with an Archimedean
screw inside. As the screw turns, it transports chunks of ore along its
length. One of the drawbacks to the design is that it can and does jam, if
ore gets wedged between the edge of the screw and the casing.
When a jam occurs, correct procedure is... what? That's right, shut down
the machinery, open a hatch in the casing, and use a pry bar to dislodge
the jam. Then start the machinery back up.
Incorrect procedure, as demonstrated by one worker, is to take a six-foot
jimmy bar and bash the side of the casing in an effort to dislodge the jam.
This is a bad idea because cast iron can fracture if abused. But the screw
feeder is a rugged piece of equipment. It survived the bashing.
Our anti-hero then opened the inspection panel whilst the feeder was
running. He spotted the jam and dislodged it with the same six-foot jimmy
bar. Did I mention that the feeder is still running? Did I mention that
it's a large and rugged piece of equipment?
The screw grabbed the end of the jimmy bar and whipped it around violently.
The free end of the bar intersected our man's testicles. He landed in a
crumpled, semi-conscious heap ten feet away from the now free-running
feeder. Fortunately for him, the mangled bar missed him when it was flung
free of the feeder moments later. Otherwise this story would have a more
The unfortunate worker sustained injuries to his genitalia that
necessitated a hospital stay. And worse, he put an end to the smelter's
accident-free run in a public and highly amusing fashion. His pride was as
crushed as his testicles. Almost.
Kalgoorlie is a mining town as famous for its hotels, hookers, and gambling
as it is for being the centre of Australia's gold fields. But even by
Kal's standards, this one was a ripper.
DarwinAwards.com © 1994 - 2012
Submitted by: Mat Meyer
Reference: Eyewitness account of Mat Meyer, who says, "My younger brother worked at the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter. He was laughing so hard telling this story that he nearly wet himself."