On a clear, dry fall day in the South, a truck driver and loader operator working for a road building company were loading a front-end loader to transport it from one logging site to another one. Both were wearing the required personal protective equipment. While the loader operator was retrieving the loader from a gravel pit, the truck driver positioned the lowboy for loading. The trailer was on a level roadway, and the truck was positioned slightly over the crest of a hill. The truck driver was located on the ground to the left side of the lowboy as the loader operator began to load the equipment onto the lowboy.
The 61-year-old truck driver had been working with the road building company for seven months but had over 30 years of experience driving a truck. The company had a clean safety record.
UNSAFE ACT OR CONDITION
As the loader operator was loading the equipment, he noticed the lowboy moving. He attempted to go in reverse and drive off the moving lowboy. The truck driver attempted to board the moving truck to stop it from rolling down the hill.
As the truck rolled down the hill, it began to jackknife to the right. It proceeded off the roadway and up an embankment, throwing the truck driver off the truck’s running board. The truck continued to jackknife and move off the embankment back onto the roadway, where it came to a stop. After the loader operator had backed the loader off the lowboy and dismounted the loader, he found the truck driver underneath the truck near the front right wheel.
The loader operator checked for a pulse; he did not detect one and called 911. Paramedics arrived on the scene and tried to revive the driver, but he was pronounced dead at the accident site. It was determined that the truck’s wheel had not passed over the driver’s body. Although the cause of death was not immediately determined, the paramedics suspected the driver either had a heart attack during the accident or suffered a broken neck from the fall off the truck.
When loading and unloading equipment, always remain aware of surroundings and changing conditions. Always position the truck and lowboy on a level surface with high visibility in all directions. Make certain that the transmission is in ‘park’ and truck and trailer brakes are working properly and engaged before dismounting. In this case, and in any case, the truck driver should not have attempted to enter the truck while it was moving.
(Source: Forest Resources Assn.)