On a winter afternoon in the Appalachians, a log truck driver was collecting his load ticket from the knuckleboom loader operator. The area around the log deck was level, but the ground was frozen.
The 26-year-old driver had been employed with his current logging business for approximately one year. He was fully trained for his job and had no known physical disabilities or previous accident history. He was wearing a hard hat and high-visibility vest.
Unsafe Acts and Condition:
The driver was in a hurry to get going. Instead of waiting for the loader operator to hand him the load ticket, the driver climbed up onto the loader to take the ticket. He then walked hurriedly off the loader platform, down onto the loader trailer frame, and jumped down onto the ground instead of using the equipment steps.
The driver wrenched his knee when he landed on the frozen ground.
The driver was unable to walk without pain. He was taken to the local emergency room. An x-ray and MRI revealed that there was only a strain and no torn ligaments. The driver missed several days of work and was cleared to return to driving after a follow-up visit to the doctor five days later.
Recommendations for Correction:
- Drivers should refrain from climbing onto the loader and instead should wait on the ground for the loader operator to hand him or her the ticket—or consider using a method of handling load tickets that does not require mounting and dismounting the loader—dropbox, ticket clipped to a string, etc.
- Logging crew members, or others who need to enter and exit loaders or other machinery, should always face the machine and use three points of contact, such that two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet are always in firm contact with handles and steps.
- Use caution, remembering that many accidents and injuries happen when an employee is in a hurry. Never jump on or off equipment, especially when frozen ground or debris are present. Keep handholds, steps, and other walking areas free of debris, oil, etc.
- Logging employers should develop and enforce safe working procedures for truck drivers and other employees around the log landing.