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FACEValue: Heavy-equipment operator dies after cab ejection

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Case report: 10-MI-038*
Issued by: Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: Spring 2010

A heavy-equipment operator died after he was ejected from a loader equipped with a tree fork. It is not known whether the victim, an authorized operator of the loader, was wearing his safety belt. On the day of the incident, the victim proceeded to descend a hill after fueling and either lost control of the loader or tried to apply the brakes, which were non-functional. When the victim and machine reached the bottom of the hill, the victim was ejected from the cab. The loader then struck an excavator and rolled back over the victim, pinning him to the ground. Emergency responders arrived and pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

To help prevent similar occurrences:

  • Perform equipment inspections before work shifts begin, report any changes in equipment operation and tag the equipment out of service if a safety issue is found.
  • Employers should ensure repair work on heavy equipment is performed by workers with appropriate training.
  • Equipment operators should wear safety belts when provided.
  • Develop, implement and enforce a safety program, including disciplinary procedures for non-compliance.
  • Perform a jobsite analysis to identify worksite safety issues and train employees regarding hazards found.
  • Manufacturers and equipment designers should consider designing backhoes with interlock systems that would prevent machines from operating unless the safety belt is fastened properly.

*This report is the product of NIOSH’s Cooperative State partner. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of NIOSH.

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