Safety Tips Construction FACE Reports

FACEValue: Bulldozer operator, caught between track and fender, dies

Case report: #10WA01501*
Issued by: Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of incident: Feb. 4, 2010

In February 2010, a 68-year-old construction site supervisor and heavy equipment operator with 48 years of experience died when he was crushed between a bulldozer’s track and fender. Prior to the incident, the victim had been employed for 10 years by a contractor that provides site development, residential and commercial work. On the day of the incident, he was supervising a crew at a fill and compacting project. A dump-truck driver arrived with a load of dirt, and the victim got down from the bulldozer he was operating and walked over to give the driver instructions on where to place the dirt. The victim left the bulldozer’s engine running and did not set its parking brake. As he attempted to return to the operator’s seat, he was standing on top of the bulldozer’s tread when his elbow hit the transmission shifter lever, which shifted the bulldozer out of neutral into reverse. As the bulldozer began to move backward, the victim’s left foot was caught between the moving track and the underside of the fender. His leg was pulled in and crushed. The bulldozer carried him several yards before ejecting him onto the ground. Emergency responders took him to a hospital, where he died of his injuries 15 days later.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Before leaving a bulldozer unattended, operators should follow the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures to ensure the equipment is secured against movement.
  • Employers should consider buying mobile construction equipment installed with an interlock safety system or operator presence sensing system, which will prevent unintended movement of equipment.

*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.