The Darwin Awards

2008 At-Risk Survivor

Next Prev Random At-Risk Survivors have misadventures that stop short of the ultimate sacrifice. Nevertheless we salute the spirit of their colossal blunders with an Honorable Mention. Better luck next time!

The Turn Of The Screw
2008 At-Risk Survivor
Unconfirmed by Darwin

(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 somber ending.

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.

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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."

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