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Safety Alert: Skidder Strikes, Kills Logging Supervisor
Anyone working on an active logging job must communicate with everyone that they are on foot in the woods. Consider carrying hand-held radios on the same frequency used in the logging equipment.
Date Posted: 6/1/2008
A forester and a logging supervisor were walking on a skid trail towards the yard after inspecting a harvest operation. It was mid-afternoon on a clear winter day in the Northeast. Deep snow in the woods made walking on the skid trail a logical choice.
To avoid skidder traffic, the pair diverted to a recently unused skid trail that had a light, undisturbed covering of snow. Grapple skidders were pulling whole-tree wood to the yard and returning with brush to fill a nearby soft spot in the active part of the trail. The terrain was flat to gently rolling.
The forester, in his 50s, and the logging supervisor, 70, were both in good physical condition and had many decades of safe experience around active harvest operations. The forester was wearing a high-visibility orange hardhat and vest. The supervisor was wearing a green hardhat and coat.
Unsafe Act or Condition
The pair noticed a skidder returning to the woods with a grapple full of brush. Another skidder was on the way to the yard with a hitch of wood. They both expected the returning operator to continue on the active trail to the wet spot to deposit the brush. Instead, the operator headed up the unused trail towards the men, who were in plain sight.
The skidder operator had a clear line of sight for about 75 yards and was traveling at a safe speed. The forester vigorously waved and shouted at the skidder operator to get his attention. However, the operator was observing the grapple load of brush in his rear view mirror, so he did not see them.
When they realized the operator did not notice them and was not going to stop, the forester tried to move out of the trail and grab the supervisor to assist him, but he was unable to reach him in time.
The skidder struck the logging supervisor. The operator was unaware and continued on to drop the brush further in on the trail.
The forester rushed to assist the injured supervisor, then noticed the skidder backing up towards them. He finally got the operator’s attention. The operator stopped and came to assist, as did the other skidder operator. While the operators attempted to stabilize the injured supervisor, the forester returned to the yard to summon the local rescue squad and notify other crew members.
The skidder ran over the supervisor’s pelvic area and legs, causing severe injury. By the time the forester returned to the scene, the supervisor had no pulse, and it was clear that he had died.
• Never assume an equipment operator sees you — even if he appears to be looking right at you — until he stops, lowers the blade, boom, or harvester head to the ground, and the machine idles down.
• Never stop to talk or do anything else on an active job where a skidder normally travels. Get off the skid trail completely and stand behind a substantial tree or other obstacle.
• Anyone working on an active logging job must communicate with everyone that they are on foot in the woods. Consider carrying hand-held radios on the same frequency used in the logging equipment.
(Source: Forest Resources Assn.)
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