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Safety Alert: Harvester Boom Strikes Overpass During Transit

Accessory equipment, such as hydraulic booms and blades, must be completely lowered and secured to a lowboy.

By Staff
Date Posted: 11/1/2008


      The owner of a mechanical harvester was using a contract trucker’s lowboy trailer to haul the machine to the next job. It was a clear winter day in the Appalachians with good road conditions and normal traffic flow.


Personal Characteristics

      Both the owner of the harvester and the truck driver were in their early 30s and had experiencing loading and moving timber harvesting equipment.


Unsafe Act or Condition

      The owner and the trucker loaded the machine onto the trailer and chained everything down except the boom. After visually inspecting the load, they were sure the boom was no higher than the height of the cab of the truck. They proceeded to travel to the next job on the main state highway, the owner of the machine following in his pick-up truck.



      The truck approached an overpass, traveling at 50 miles an hour. When the machine started under the overpass, the owner, in the pick-up truck, observed the hose reel on the boom slam violently into the bridge above, breaking off a piece of the hose reel about 6 inches square. The driver transporting the machine was not aware of the impact and kept driving at a steady pace. The harvester remained secured to the lowboy trailer and never appeared to be loose.



      The driver eventually came to a train overpass. He stopped to check the height of the load and saw the damage to the boom. The owner and driver determined that the table to which the boom was secured had drifted up to a leveling position that was ‘over height.’ The damage to the boom was mostly minor and could be repaired with a welding torch.



      Both the owner and the driver understood that if they had chained the boom down before leaving the job, then the hydraulics would not have leaked off and allowed the table to move the boom to a higher position. (Accessory equipment, such as hydraulic booms and blades, must be completely lowered and secured to a lowboy.) Also, a dry run with the pick-up truck should have been made to measure, if necessary, the height of the all overpasses along the truck’s route; it always pays to err on the side of caution. It can also be prudent to ‘over secure’ logging equipment for transport if in doubt about any required tie-downs.

      (Source: Forest Resources Assn.)


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