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Truck driver struck by log while bucking under trailer

Date of incident: April 2013
Notice of incident number: 2013161750073
Employer: Stump-to-dump logging company

Incident summary
A driver of a loaded off-highway logging truck was hauling to a dry land sort. He was accompanied by the processor operator. Two binders secured the load, which extended above the height of the stakes on the log bunks. As the truck travelled along the road, the load shifted and two unstable logs fell from the top of the load and over the stakes. The two logs were suspended between the binders and the stakes. A short time later, one of the logs fell farther down within the binders and contacted the drive axle tires.

In an attempt to free the suspended logs from the binders, the driver positioned himself underneath the trailer, between the trailer reach and the logs, and began to cut the logs with a chainsaw. He successfully cut through the first log. Before he could finish cutting the second log, it snapped, and one end of the log suddenly swung under the trailer. The end of the swinging log struck the driver and pushed him backwards into the coupling receiver, causing fatal injuries.

Investigation conclusions
Cause

  • Worker struck by log he was bucking from logging truck binders: The end of a log that the worker was bucking out of the binders snapped off due to significant bind in the log before the cut was complete. The log sprang back at him, striking him. The force of the blow pushed him backwards into the coupling receiver, causing fatal injuries.

Underlying factors

  • Hazardous bucking conducted in an unsafe area: The worker undertook a hazardous task, although there were alternatives. The worker entered a confined area to do the task, which eliminated escape routes and increased the hazard. The worker should have been stopped from undertaking the task due to foreseeable risks of the work activity.
  • Unstable load: The log load was required to be stable without the use of binders, but this was not ensured. The load was unstable because the top rows of logs were not in a good log lay; the logs were loaded above the stakes; the top rows of logs were all placed butt-forward; the logs were slippery from sap; and the logs were small-diameter logs. All of these factors contributed to the instability of the load. A third binder was not used.
  • Binders not checked after the truck left the loading area: Although the distance to the dry land sort was not great, the binders needed to be checked as evidenced by the amount the log load shifted in a short distance. This was not done, and by the time it was noticed that the logs had shifted, it was too dangerous to attempt to retighten the binders.
  • Inadequate hazard assessment: Neither the worker nor the processor operator (who acted as a supervisor at times) adequately assessed the hazards of cutting the logs while the worker was positioned underneath the load. An adequate hazard assessment would have identified that the logs could not be cut safely due to the high risk of log movement and the limited ability to avoid being struck or pinned by logs against the reach or the coupling receiver.
  • Inadequate supervision: The worker talked to his supervisor by radio, and the supervisor accepted the worker's decision to cut the logs out. The supervisor and the processor operator had a close relationship with the worker, and the worker had mentored both of them early in their careers. This relationship influenced them to defer to the worker's decision to cut the logs out of the binders. A failure of supervision occurred due to the lack of supervisory risk assessment, insufficient supervisory direction, and inadequate control of a hazardous condition and of a dangerous activity.
  • Worker's training was incomplete: The worker's training did not include any instruction on dealing with logs in binders. The employer had provided no specific instruction to the trainers regarding training content or outcomes, and the employer had no written safe work procedures for dealing with logs hung up in the binders.

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Additional resource:
BC Forest Safety Council safety alert

Publication Date: Apr 2013 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2013161750073