Safety Alert: Loader Boom Descends, Hits Crewman During Refueling

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Safety Alert


A logging crew member was helping to refuel a knuckleboom loader at a log deck on a winter day in the Southeast.

The crew member was in his mid-50s and had been, at one time, part owner of his own logging business. He was experienced in logging, having worked in the industry for many years.

The loader ran out of fuel with a log in the grapple and the boom in the air. The loader operator and the crew member began refueling the loader and preparing to restart it.
The boom, with the log still in the grapple, began losing pressure and slowly descended. Eventually, it came to rest temporarily on the frame of the loader. The two men remained in the vicinity of the suspended log.

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The log came to a rest on the frame. However, the pressure continued to drop in the hydraulic cylinder. Within a short time, the boom slipped off the frame, and the log struck the crew member in the leg.

The force of the blow broke the crew member’s leg, causing a compound fraction of the femur. The early prognosis was poor, with amputation being a possibility, but at last report the leg was improving and recovery was continuing.

1. Make sure that all logging machinery is properly maintained and fueled.
2. While running out of fuel is not a hazard, it can create hazards. Climbing on machines to bleed fuel lines and prime the fuel pump brings its own hazards.
3. Don’t work under or near machines that have suspended booms and loads.
4. Always fully release hydraulic pressure from suspended booms and loads prior to working on equipment. If equipment does not have sufficient bleeding valves, have them installed.
5. Always use proper personal protective equipment for the task, and only undertake maintenance under safe conditions.