BACKGROUND:At the beginning of a work shift on a summer morning in the Appalachians, a logging business owner and a co-worker were removing a stick that had lodged between the feller-buncher window and the window guard.
PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS:The 42-year-old feller-buncher operator was the owner of the logging business and had 24 years of logging experience. The 58-year-old co-worker had many years of experience, but he had been working for this company for approximately two years. His regular job was limbing and topping trees at the log deck. Both individuals were considered fully trained and qualified for the work they were doing. Neither of them was wearing a hard hat or other personal protective equipment while undertaking this pre-shift work on the equipment.
UNSAFE ACTS:The owner/operator was sitting inside the feller-buncher’s cab, and the co-worker was standing on the ground, with his hand holding onto the door jamb of the feller- buncher. After they dislodged the stick, the owner asked the co-worker if everything was okay. The co-worker replied affirmatively, and the owner/operator immediately closed the door of the feller-buncher.
INCIDENT:The co-worker’s hand was still in the door jamb. The door slammed shut and caught one of his fingers.
INJURY:The co-worker’s thumb was bluntly severed at about the point of the base of the thumbnail. The hospital emergency room team was not able to reattach the finger. The co-worker lost about three weeks of work during the recovery period.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTION:• Clear communication between co-workers, including “all clear” messages, should be implemented. Remember that many injuries occur when the operator is in too much of a hurry.
• Workers should be aware of and avoid contact with machine pinch points, door hinges, hydraulically-controlled attachments, etc. Brace or otherwise immobilize doors if they need to be kept open during maintenance.
• Wear personal protective equipment when on the job and out of the machine cab. In this incident, the co-worker might have significantly reduced his injury if he had been wearing gloves.
Southwide Safety Committee;
Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager