Safety Alert: Logging Equipment No Match for Locomotive

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It was mid-morning on a clear, cold December day in the Lake States Region. Markets for forest products were strong, and loggers were busy moving their crews into winter timber sales, hoping to take advantage of rapidly improving logging conditions.


A logger instructed his truck driver to move his mechanized harvester to a timber sale that could only be operated in the winter. Access to the timber sale was off the end of a public road that featured a well-marked, but seldom-used railroad crossing.


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The truck driver tasked with moving the logging equipment was familiar with the normal train schedule and knew the train would not be running that day. He also knew how eager the logger was to get started on this new job. As a result, he slowed down at the rail crossing instead of coming to a complete stop, assuming he could stop if necessary.


By the time the truck driver saw the locomotive, it was too late to stop on the icy road. The truck cleared the tracks, but the trailer carrying the logging equipment took the full impact of the locomotive. The logging equipment and trailer were destroyed. The locomotive sustained significant damage, there was minor damage to the truck, and the driver was unscathed. The truck driver was correct in that there would be no train running that day, but failed to consider the possibility that a replacement locomotive might be passing through at exactly the wrong time.


Rushing: The truck driver felt pressured to get the logging equipment delivered. As a result, he took a chance on crossing the railroad tracks with the truck loaded with logging equipment. Complacency: The truck driver’s complacency was also a factor, as he felt his knowledge of the train schedule was all he needed to be concerned with.


• Never ignore railroad crossing signs.

• Always expect the unexpected.