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Worker struck by excavator bucket

Date of incident: September 2015
Notice of incident number: 2015130750040
Employer: Forest management company

Incident summary
Workers were replacing a malfunctioning motor on a gravel conveyor located at a road construction site on a forest service road. As the new motor was being lifted into place using the bucket of an excavator, a worker was struck by the bucket and suffered serious injuries.



Investigation conclusions


  • Worker in hazardous area near suspended load: The mechanic was working in close proximity to the excavator bucket while positioning a replacement motor on a gravel conveyor. He was struck when the excavator bucket fell suddenly and without warning as the operator attempted to lower the motor into place.

Underlying factors

  • Excavator not properly warmed up: The excavator was started and moved only a short distance into position to aid in motor replacement on the conveyor. It is possible that the hydraulic oil had not warmed up sufficiently for safe use of the excavator’s hydraulic system.
  • Lack of supervision: The workers were assigned to an area of road construction that was 19.5 kilometres off the main highway on a forest service road. They were unsupervised at the time of the incident, and no site safety meeting had been conducted before they started work.
  • Inadequate safe work procedures: The safe work procedures for excavator operation do not identify the need to warm up the excavator before using the hydraulic system. Several requirements of the safe work procedures were not being followed at the time of the incident, such as conducting a pre‑operation inspection, ensuring that all persons were safely in the clear before operating the excavator, and the requirement not to swing a suspended load above or within reach of any person.
  • Inadequate excavator maintenance: The maintenance on the excavator was inadequate, and many maintenance tasks had not been performed. The inspection of the excavator after the incident identified several maintenance issues, including several leaks (in hoses, valves, and filters) and a missing instrument electronic control unit that should have been in the excavator cab.

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Publication Date: Jan 2018 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2015130750040