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Front-end loader reversed into worker, causing fatal injuries

Date of incident: July 2014
Notice of incident number: 2014144660094
Employer: Dump truck company manufacturing wood-based fuel

Incident summary
A labourer was removing contaminants such as paper and plastic from a pile of wood chips. He was working by a new wood chip pile about 45 feet (14 metres) away from a front-end loader operator. The operator needed to move the loader, and he checked his mirrors and honked the horn before reversing. Without seeing the labourer beside the wood chip pile, the operator backed up the loader into a narrow passage that required him to drive over part of the pile. The loader backed over the labourer, who succumbed to his injuries.

Investigation conclusions

  • Loader struck worker after loader operator and worker failed to see one another: The labourer suffered fatal injuries when struck by a reversing loader. While backing up the loader, the operator could not see the labourer, and the labourer likely did not see and did not hear the loader as it approached.
Underlying factors
  • Lack of training: The labourer performed basic work that did not require much training. However, the employer failed to provide workers with the information, instruction, training, and supervision necessary to ensure the health and safety of those workers in carrying out their work.
  • Lack of safe work procedures: The employer did not have safe work procedures that addressed working around mobile equipment and the hazards associated with it. There were no safe work procedures for operating the loader with an obstructed view.
  • Lack of communication: In this congested, dynamic workplace, the workers communicated verbally or by hand signals. Communication would diminish significantly while the noisy equipment was operating, and as the loaders and workers constantly moved about, they were sometimes out of one another's sight. Sometimes, therefore, there would be no communication at all between the workers. The employer failed to implement effective communication procedures to ensure the safety of workers when two or more of them were required to work as a team.

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Publication Date: Jul 2014 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2014144660094