On a dry, sunny, late winter day in the South, a sawhand was binding down a bulldozer on a lowboy trailer to prepare it for moving.
The sawhand was in his early 40s and had been involved in logging for most of his career. He was experienced in the task at hand, and he was wearing a hard hat, safety glasses, hi-visibility vest, and steel-toed boots.
UNSAFE ACT AND CONDITION:
The sawhand was using a lever-style (breakover) load binder along with an extension bar that was designed for the task of providing additional leverage. (Lever-style load binders store a high amount of energy when they are used to tension chains, and this energy is released very quickly and often unexpectedly when the binders are tripped.) The sawhand positioned his face fairly close to the load binder extension bar and began loosening one of the binders for adjustment.
The load binder suddenly tripped, and the extension bar decoupled (as it was designed to do), throwing the end of the extension bar at the sawhand’s face.
The extension bar lacerated the sawhand’s eyebrow. Medical treatment required five stitches.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:
• Although extension bars that have been designed for use with load binders are safer than simple pipe “cheater bars,” they still require that the user grip these extension bars firmly with two hands and that the face and body be positioned out of harm’s way. The risk of lever-style load binders cannot be eliminated, due to their design.
• A safer option for tightening chains is a ratcheting load binder, because it allows for a gradual tightening and release of stored energy. (Personnel should still not stand directly in line with the ratcheting assembly, to prevent injury from a rapid release of tension.)
• Wear personal protective equipment, including head and eye protection and gloves, when binding and unbinding equipment.
Southwide Safety Committee;
Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager