Section I: Vehicular Accidents
Summary No. 2 - Front-End Loader Operations
Employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck or run over by a front-end loader performing operations after dark under limited lighting.
Operators of front-end loaders were loading piled furnace slag into dump trucks. The slag had been off-loaded from the ship to the dock.
Activity at time of incident:
Operator was backing up a front-end loader in the dark after dumping a load of slag into the dump truck while the supervisor was walking through the work area.
Three employees, two front-end loader operators and a laborer, are involved with loading furnace slag into a dump truck at night. The two front-end loader operators scoop furnace slag from a pile on the dock and load it into a dump truck for transport. The slag cannot be dumped directly from the ship into the dump truck because it is too small. The front-end loaders scoop slag from the pile, back up, turn the loader around 180 degrees, and transport the load to the dump truck. After dumping the slag into the dump truck, the loader backs up, turns around 180 degrees, and returns to the slag pile for another load. The laborer is responsible for manually shoveling the slag to maintain a neat pile. A fourth employee, the supervisor, enters the work area at the time of the incident.
The operator of the front-end loader had just completed dumping a load of slag into the dump truck and proceeded to back up while looking over his left shoulder toward the back left side of the loader. He did not look toward the back right side of the loader as he was backing up. While he was backing up, the supervisor was walking into the work area, with his head down approaching the right rear of the front-end loader. The laborer who witnessed the incident, stated that although he saw the supervisor walk into the work area, he lost sight of him momentarily as the front-end loader was backing up but noticed that it ran over something. The laborer immediately motioned to the operator to stop backing up. He went over to the front of the loader and found the supervisor lying on the ground. The supervisor had been fatally struck and run over by the right front tire of the front-end loader.
At the time of the incident, the front-end loader was operating with broken front and rear lights. Employees were not trained to avoid entering the work area where the loaders were operating.
The loading operation was being performed after dark under limited lighting conditions.
The operator of the front-end loader was certified by the company supervisor and authorized to operate the front-end loader in the functions he was performing (driving forward, backward, scooping product into the bucket and dumping the bucket).
Applicable Standards and Control Measures
- 29 CFR 1917.43(c)(5): Powered Industrial Trucks - Maintenance. "Powered industrial trucks shall be maintained in safe working order. Safety devices shall not be removed or made inoperative . . . ."
These hazards could be prevented by the following:
- Operating the front-end loader with properly working front and rear lights and rear view mirrors;
- Maintaining the front-end loaders in safe operating condition and taking them out of service if defects make them unsafe to operate;
- Using a reverse signal alarm that is distinguishable from the surrounding noise level. If it is not equipped with a reverse signal alarm, an employee should be stationed at the operation to signal when it is safe to back up whenever the operator has an obstructed view to the rear. (Good work practice);
- Prohibiting workers from passing through an area where there is danger of being hit by a front-end loader; and
- Providing adequate illumination (at least 5 foot-candles) during equipment operations, pursuant to 29 CFR 1917.123(a).
Other Relevant Standards and/or Control Measures
- Strobe lights may be useful in preventing this hazard.