SKIDDER OPERATOR INJURED IN ROLLOVER
BACKGROUND: On a sunny summer morning, a skidder operator was pulling his first load of the day through steep terrain in the Appalachians.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The 43-year-old skidder operator had some previous logging experience two years earlier, but he had been employed for only two weeks on this operation. He was operating a rented grapple skidder, and his level of experience was low for the steep skid trails and switchbacks on the tract. He was wearing a hard hat, but he was not using the seatbelt.
UNSAFE ACT OR CONDITION: The skidder was traveling downhill too fast with a full load of logs. As the operator reached a steep point where skid trails converged and descended steeply, the load of logs shifted downhill.
ACCIDENT: The logs slid down a steep embankment and caused the skidder to overturn and roll over three or four times, until it came to rest against a stump.
INJURY: The skidder operator's head struck the upright supports in the skidder cab. He fractured his skull and nose, and he received numerous facial injuries. He was life-flighted to the hospital. It was estimated that he would lose six months of work. The damage to the skidder cost approximately $500 to repair.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
- Require the use of seatbelts when operating skidders and other ROPS/FOPS machines.
- Newly hired equipment operators should be kept under direct supervision until the operator's skill and experience level have been determined to be acceptable.
- Ensure that equipment operators are fully familiar and "checked out" with their piece of equipment.
- Slow down in steep terrain!
Appalachian Technical Division Forester
Please follow equipment manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.