On a clear, cool, winter day in the South, a log truck driver was waiting for his truck to be loaded with pine pulpwood. His truck was at the landing on a pine plantation clearcut operation.
The 44-year-old truck driver had been a contract log hauler for approximately 20 years. He had hauled for this logging operation for about 6 months and had been trained in the knowledge of its safety rules.
This logging operation’s safety procedure was for the loader operator to blow the “all clear” horn when he had completed loading the log truck. This was the signal that it was safe for the truck driver to begin trimming and binding the load. However, the truck driver was in a hurry, and he began trimming the load, using a pole saw, on the loader operator’s blind side (the far side of the trailer) before the truck was fully loaded and before the loader operator had blown the horn.
A pine pulpwood tree fell from the loader’s grapple and landed on the far side of the log truck where the driver was trimming his load. The tree struck the driver on his shoulder and leg as it fell.
The tree broke the driver’s shoulder, left leg, and two vertebrae. The driver also received several lacerations. He lost 4 to 6 months of work time while he underwent several surgeries and physical therapy. His total hospital stay was three weeks.
During loading, the driver should stay in a designated “waiting area” that is located well away from the loading operation but in clear view of the loader operator. If the driver is not at the designated location, loading should stop.
Truck drivers must learn and obey all logging operations’ safety policies, which in this case required that the driver does not begin trimming the load until the “all clear” horn has been sounded.
Many operations find that it is safer to have the driver pull the loaded truck out of the loading zone before trimming and/or binding the load.
On the logging job, all truck drivers (and on-the-ground workers) should wear personal protective equipment including hardhat, safety glasses, and high visibility vest when out of the cab.
Please follow equipment manufacturers’ recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.
Source: Forest Resources Association