TRUCKER INJURES FACE WHILE CLIMBING ONTO TRAILER BED
BACKGROUND: A log truck had just been unloaded in the woodyard of a paper mill in the Northeast, and the trucker drove it to the designated clean-off area to remove debris from the trailer bed. It was a warm, wet January day with melting snow and water on the woodyard.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The trucker had more than ten years' experience and had attended the trucking workshops offered by the state forestry association. He was wearing a hardhat and gloves but not steel toe boots.
UNSAFE ACT OR CONDITIONS: The trucker walked to the back of the trailer and placed his foot on the top of the rear tire to climb onto the trailer bed. While he was lifting himself onto the trailer, his foot slipped off the wet tire, slamming his face into one of the trailer stakes located directly over the tire.
ACCIDENT: As the trucker fell forward, he impaled his face on one of two hooks welded to the stakes to secure the cables. The steel hook, approximately 5/16 of an inch in diameter and 2 inches in length, punctured his face and entered the hollow of his cheekbone, just below the eye. The trucker was temporarily stuck but managed to regain his footing and lift himself off the stake hook.
INJURIES: The logger suffered a half-inch puncture wound in the side of his cheek that required 12 stitches to close. Internally, the hook did more serious damage. There was a puncture wound to the eye socket and three bone fractures. Five bone fragments were removed during surgery, and a wire mesh was inserted to reinforce the socket. The trucker lost two weeks of work and still suffers from related headaches. Had the hook entered a half-inch higher, however, the trucker could have lost his eye altogether.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
- Use straps to secure loads instead of cables, although straps require more attention in the winter to keep them free from ice and snow.
- Secure cables on spools rather than hooks, where possible.
- Climb up on the back of the trailer, rather than the side.
- If a tire must be used to climb, choose one away from stakes with obvious hazards.
- Take time to climb onto the trailer carefully, especially when surfaces are wet or icy.
- Equip designated clean-off areas in woodyards with a set of stairs to permit easy access to trailer beds.
Northeast Technical Division Forester
Please follow equipment manufacturers' recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.