Worker survives excavator rollover
A utility hoe operator was pioneering a logging road along a steep slope. The area had been drilled and shot-blasted recently, and the road was being constructed through a prescribed 3/4 bench endhaul section. The utility hoe operator was stripping the overburden (loose materials created by the blasting) and laying puncheon (small logs and branches) onto the sub-grade to establish a stable platform for the excavator. As the utility hoe operator was travelling back to grab more puncheon, the excavator broke through the previously laid puncheon and slid down a wet bank (40 percent slope). After sliding down 60 feet, the excavator toppled over a 30-foot bedrock bluff, landing upside down on a lower bench approximately 150 feet below the road. The utility hoe operator was pinned in the machine for approximately four hours. He suffered serious injuries.
Findings as to causes
- Sandy and soft muddy materials were on top of smooth bedrock. The unstable materials had been made slippery with water draining down the hill.
- The utility hoe operator did not have adequate experience and training to work as a heading hoe operator.
- The utility hoe operator did not receive adequate instructions and information about the work and the area.
- There was poor planning and design for this phase of the road. More field tests to determine the soil conditions were needed and the road marker was not set properly.
- The charge hand was not contacted for his input on whether the utility hoe operator had the necessary experience working on steep slopes.
- The operator protective structures on this machine failed; they did not meet the minimum WorkSafeBC requirements.