Safety Alert: Trucker Falls Off Triaxle Truck Ladder

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On a sunny, spring afternoon in the Appalachians, a triaxle truck operator was unloading at a woodyard. To shorten his unloading time, the woodyard’s rubber tired unloader, rather than the triaxle’s truck-mounted knuckleboom, was unloading the wood.


The 48-year-old triaxle haul truck operator had been employed for approximately 27 years as a driver. He was considered fully trained for his job and had no known physical disabilities or previous accident history. He was wearing a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves.


The driver swung the triaxle knuckleboom over to the driver’s side, so that the woodyard’s rubber-tired machine could unload his truck. The driver used inappropriate handholds and foot steps while trying to descend from the loader seat. This put him in an awkward position while descending the ladder.


The driver lost his balance, slipped off the ladder, and fell approximately eight feet to the surface of the concrete woodyard.


The truck driver broke his ankle and eventually required surgery. He was expected to be out of work for approximately six weeks.

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Follow manufacturer’s instructions for mounting and dismounting equipment. The truck/loader manufacturer recommends using the handholds and ladders provided on the triaxle, which means that the loader boom should be facing rearward over the truck bed or forward over the truck cab. These boom positions line up the seat pedestal with the ladders and handholds, thereby eliminating awkward dismounts.

Annually review policies and procedures to identify weaknesses and make improvements. Just because no one has ever experienced an injury at a woodyard does not mean that the drivers or the woodyard are using the safest procedures. In this case, the woodyard’s policy of using its own wheeled loaders to unload the triaxles and save unloading time inadvertently influenced the triaxle driver to use makeshift handholds and a less safe dismounting procedure.

Source: Forest Resources Association