Safety Alert: Welded Tire Rim Blows, Kills Logger While Inflating

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Safety Alert

On a winter afternoon in the Appalachians, a father and son were replacing a skidder tire in their logging business shop.

Both father and 33-year-old son had many years of logging experience. It was unknown whether they were wearing any personal protective equipment.

The skidder wheel rim had been welded twice before from previous splits around the circumference. The son had mounted a replacement skidder tire onto the rim and inflated the tire. While one side of the tire seated well on the rim, the other side did not seat properly. The father and son continued to inflate the tire well above the maximum recommended air pressure. The son occasionally checked the pressure with a hand-held gauge. The air pump did not have an inline pressure gauge to continually monitor the tire pressure. The skidder tire was leaning against a wall. Not tire inflation cage or other barrier was used.

As inflating continued, the son turned to his right, exposing his side to the face of the rim while walking away. The rim suddenly and forcefully ruptured.

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The force from the rupture blew the father backwards. The half of the rim that housed the air stem became a projectile and struck the son in the head and chest. The impact propelled him backwards about 10 or 15 feet, and he was killed. After striking the victim, the rim then struck the back wall of the shop, causing extensive damage. The other half of the rim blew through the garage door, then struck and damaged a vehicle outside the shop; it eventually came to a rest about 90 feet from the shop.

• Never repair a rim or mount a tire on a rim that has been damaged, welded or structurally repaired in any way.
• Use a tire inflation cage or other suitable barrier when inflating single-piece rim assemblies.
• Never exceed the recommended air pressure to seat tire beads.
• Use an inline pressure gauge to monitor tire pressure continually when inflating.
• Wear personal protective equipment, including eye protection, when repairing and inflating tires.

(Source: Forest Resources Assn.)