Blog #610 – Skidder Death Spurs Alert

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

The BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) in the Nanaimo, British Columbia released an equipment operation safety alert in early February, 2012 just two weeks after a worker was fatally injured by a grapple skidder.

On January 16, 2012 the operator of the skidder – a heavy vehicle with a hydraulic bucket used in logging operations to drag cut trees out of the forest – died after sustaining injuries. Preliminary findings indicate the operator is run over by his own skidder while he was outside of the machine.

The alert notes it is a best practice to follow manufacturer’s suggestions for ensuring that equipment is safely secured or locked out before performing maintenance, clearing debris are working outside the machine. “Lockout, shut down or stopping/parking procedures should be specific to the machine being operated and should prevent inadvertent movement” caused by mechanical, gravity, hydraulic, electrical or pneumatic energy sources.

The BCFSC also recommends these precautions during maintenance work:

• wherever possible, stop the machine in an area that is flat, open and out of the way from other trafficker hazards;

• get a second opinion or asked for assistance when a situation arises that is out of the normal routine; and

• when locking out a machine or piece of equipment, ensure it is in a zero-energy state before beginning work.

WorkSafeBC released its own recommendations after the death of a supervisor who was run over by a park skidder and unexpectedly rolled down the slope.

The resulting hazard alert called on employers to establish written safe work procedures for skidder operation in adverse conditions; parking position skidder so that any unexpected movements do not create hazards for workers, especially those working on the downhill side of the slope; and before leaving a parked machine, ensure its transmission is out of gear, the parking brake is on and the blade is lowered firmly to the ground.

My opinion

All employers, before any work is done at the beginning of the work day, should have a safety talk, (tailgate meeting) discussing all the possible hazards the workers are going to face during that particular day. They may discuss weather and changes in the weather, they may discuss changes in topography, changes in vegetation and density of the vegetation, and they may also discuss the manufacturer’s specifications listed for all the equipment.

I know this sounds like doing the right thing after the fact. It is just good practice for employers to take the safety of their workers seriously and make that of paramount importance. This may include passing as much information about the equipment that they are aware of, or even better, have the employer take the appropriate training on/off site to better understand the equipment that they have.

Does this sound good to you? It does make sense doesn’t it! Too bad the employer, in this case, didn’t learn more about skidder safety.

I do hope this is helped you, as an employer, to better understand your responsibilities under the law. A little work at prevention is all that is needed.

Remember – In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘Machine Operation and Maintenance Safety’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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