Safety Alert: Trucks in Accident at Wood Chip Dump

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During the busy winter harvest season in the Lake States region, two trucks hauling wood chips to a mill had an accident while unloading. A driver was backing up to the chip dump as the other driver was lowering his truck after unloading chips.

Personal Characteristics

Both truck drivers were experienced. The driver of the truck that was being unloaded had been delivering wood chips to the mill for many years. The driver who was backing up to the chip dump was also an experienced driver but only had been delivering chips to the site for a couple of weeks; this was the first incident this driver had in his 10-year career hauling forest products.

Unsafe Acts and Conditions

The weather conditions were clear and sunny, and visibility was good. Upon entering the mill site, the driver noticed that a truck was unloading at the chip dump. After the driver scaled in, and while traveling on the designated route to the dump, he passed a truck. The driver assumed this was the truck being unloaded. The driver proceeded to back up towards the chip dump as the other driver was lowering his truck from the designated area. The bumper of the truck being lowered caught the back end of the chip van of the other truck. The driver then tried to pull away from the dump with the front of the emptied truck caught on the chip van of the truck in line to unload.


No injuries occurred. However, both trucks experienced significant damage. The chip dump was also shut down for a significant amount of time until the two trucks were separated by a crane.

Recommendations for Correction

• Maintain a good situational awareness of what is happening around you at all times to help avoid accidents and adjust to changing conditions.
• Before moving in reverse, get out and look. Make a 360-degree walk around so you are aware of any people, objects, or other hazards.
• Use your four-way flashers and sound your horn before reversing.
• Avoid distractions such as cell phones during vehicle operations.
• Do not assume what was observed from a distance is relevant when you arrive.
• Be well rested. Fatigue and repetitive tasks can lead to complacency and create unsafe situations.
• Be aware of a mill’s safe operating procedures for the wood yard.
• Make sure the chip dump is lowered and that no trucks are on the ramp prior to backing up to enter the chip dump for unloading.

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Source: Forest Resources Association