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Safety Alert: Loader Touches Power Line; Worker Is Killed

On a summer day in the Southeast, a skidder operator pulled a knuckleboom loader out of the woods with the skidder in preparation for moving the next day

By Staff
Date Posted: 1/1/2009


Background

On a summer day in the Southeast, a skidder operator pulled a knuckleboom loader out of the woods with the skidder in preparation for moving the next day. Weather conditions were warm, clear and dry, and the terrain was flat and sandy.

Personal Characteristics

The skidder operator, 65, had worked for the logging crew for about 30 years. He had operated forestry equipment most of his working life. He was considered fully trained, had no previous accident history and was wearing personal protective equipment.

Unsafe Act or Condition

The skidder operator parked the loader under power lines. The next morning, the loader operator started the loader and raised the knuckleboom to ground the grapple on the trailer. Other co-workers were assisting with preparations to move the loader, and they, too were beneath the power lines.

The power lines carried 115,000 volts with three circuit interrupters; the three bottom lines were 32.5 feet above the ground. (The loader had a total reach of about 38 feet.)

The loader operator failed to recognize the proximity of the power lines when he raised the boom. Also, the overhead lexan window was dirty and scratched, possibly hindering his visibility.

Accident

When the loader operator raised the loader boom, it struck one of the energized high voltage power lines. The line arced and blew apart, shearing in three sections. One section landed on the skidder operator as he was standing next to the semi-tractor that was going to back up to the loader trailer.

Injury

The skidder operator was electrocuted and killed. The truck driver was knocked off the step of the tractor and received minor burns.

Recommendations

1. Equipment operators must be aware of all hazards at the work site.

2. Never operate a loader within 100 feet of any electric power line.

3. Safety meetings should be conducted on the dangers of overhead hazards and the importance of keeping equipment in proper working condition (including cleaning windows).

4. During equipment loading or moving, only the workers directly involved in running the equipment (or spotting or aligning the machine if loading onto a lowboy) should be in the immediate proximity.

(Source: Forest Resources Assn.)




 






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