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Worker struck by reversing loader

Date of incident: March 2014
Notice of incident number: 2014104271262
Employer: Trucking company

Incident summary
Two workers had finished offloading limestone from a barge onto a conveyor system to a cement plant. One worker was operating the wheel loader on the barge to scrape the remaining limestone aggregate into a pile. The operator did not see the second worker board the barge. The second worker bent down to pick up a grease gun and was struck by the back end of the loader as it reversed. He fell to the barge deck and became trapped underneath the loader's bucket when the loader continued to reverse. The loader operator was unaware the second worker was being dragged under the bucket as the loader continued to scrape limestone into a pile. When the loader operator became aware the second worker was trapped under the bucket, he stopped the loader and called for first aid. The second worker was seriously injured.

Investigation conclusions
Causes

  • Operator unaware of worker's location before reversing loader: The loader operator was unaware of the location of the other worker before he reversed the loader.
  • Worker unaware that loader would reverse: The worker who came onto the barge did not see or hear the loader reversing and therefore did not move out of the way of the loader.

Underlying factors

  • Ineffective communication: The loader operator was not aware that the other worker had boarded the barge. The workers were not provided with an effective means of communicating their intention to board the barge.
  • Non-functioning backup alarm: The loader did not have a functioning backup alarm to warn the worker that the loader was moving in reverse; therefore, he was not alerted to the fact that the loader was reversing and did not move out of the way to avoid being struck.
  • Lack of a start-of-shift inspection: The loader operators were not required by their employer to perform a start-of-shift inspection of the loader. This contributed to the operation and use of the loader without a functioning backup alarm.

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Publication Date: Mar 2014 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2014104271262