On a fall morning in the southeastern U.S., a loader operator finished loading wood onto a tractor-trailer and signaled the truck driver to pull forward. Three crew members (loader operator, truck driver, and deckhand) were involved in loading-related operations. To prevent overweight loads, the crew was using in-woods scales to inform the operator as trailers were loaded. The scales require batteries that must be replaced or maintained as needed.
The loader operator and the truck driver had over 20 years of logging work experience. The deckhand had approximately seven years of logging experience.
Unsafe Acts and Conditions
The deckhand was trying to hook up a battery to the log scale, but he did not inform anyone on the crew what he was doing. He positioned himself on the far side of the truck and trailer in a high-risk zone, out of the line of sight of the loader operator. The loader operator and the truck driver were not aware that he was there before the loader operator gave the all-clear signal to the driver to pull forward.
As he pulled forward, the driver felt a bump and thought he had run over a piece of wood. He immediately looked around and asked where the deckhand was located. The loader operator scanned the area and saw the deckhand’s legs under the truck. The loader operator and truck driver quickly checked on the deckhand, who was found between the wheels on the tandem axle on the passenger side of the truck.
The deckhand had been run over. The crew called 911 and administered first aid, but the deckhand never regained consciousness and died at the scene.
Recommendations for Correction
• Deckhands and other ground workers should always stay clear of working equipment, suspended or moving logs, and log trailers being loaded and moved.
• Deckhands and other ground workers should use proper communication such that all operators and drivers are aware of their presence while performing a task.
• Ground workers should only be present within the log deck’s high-risk zone after the loader operator’s visual consent. Before granting consent, loader movement should cease (grapple/forks on the ground) and continue only when ground workers are confirmed out of the high-risk zone.
• The loader operator is responsible for safe loading/unloading and the safety of the truck driver as well as other workers on the log deck. If the operator loses sight of anyone around the deck, he should immediately cease operations until visual contact is made, and they are out of the high-risk zone.
• Truck drivers should always remain in a safe area and be accounted for by the loader operator. Safe areas may include outside and well forward of the cab, on the same side of the truck as the loader, and in clear sight of the operator.
• All on-the-ground workers should wear all the required Personal Protective Equipment, including hardhats and highly reflective safety vests or clothes.
Source: Forest Resources Association