On a spring afternoon in the Appalachians, an independent mechanic shop owner was adjusting the air brakes on a dump truck owned by a logging contractor. The mechanic asked for help from the owner of the logging company.
The mechanic was very experienced and had owned his business for many years. The logging company owner was 65 years old and had worked in logging and trucking for over 25 years.
UNSAFE ACTS & CONDITIONS:
The mechanic crawled underneath the truck and asked the logging contractor for assistance. The logger joined the mechanic underneath the truck, and he lay down with his legs extended outside of the truck near the rear dual wheels. The air pressure had not built up in the air brakes, and someone asked one of the other mechanics to start the truck in order build up the air pressure. The mechanic had not chocked the wheels on the truck. Although the parking brake was set, it may not have been adjusted properly. Both individuals were underneath the truck when the other mechanic climbed into the cab and started the vehicle. The other mechanic did not engage the clutch when he turned on the engine, and the truck had been left in gear.
When the engine started, the truck lurched forward, and the rear wheels ran over both of the logger’s legs.
The logger was rushed to the hospital. Initially, he was told that one of his legs could not be saved due to the seriousness of the injury. He spent a few months in the hospital where he underwent many surgeries and skin grafts. He was still receiving physical therapy 6 months later and needed a cane to assist him when walking.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
• Before performing truck maintenance, turn the engine off, set the (properly adjusted) parking brake, and chock the wheels.
• No one should be underneath the truck if the engine needs to be started during repair work.
• Be sure to depress the clutch pedal fully when starting the engine. Another safety precaution is to put the transmission in neutral when depressing both the brake and clutch pedals during starting.
• Do not place any part of your body in front of or behind the wheels when adjusting brakes— be sure of the surroundings and let others know if you are going to work underneath the truck.
Reviewed by: Southwide Safety Committee;
Rick Meyer Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager
Please follow equipment manufacturers’ recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.