12-S-12: Forwarder with Brake Problems Overturns


On a wet winter day in the Appalachians, a forwarder operator was loading his machine in the woods. The tract was a clearcut of predominantly pulpwood on gently rolling, mountainous terrain.

The 43-year-old forwarder operator had approximately 22 years of logging experience and had been working for this crew for approximately one year. He was considered fully trained for the job. However, he was not wearing a seatbelt.

The machine was experiencing an electrical problem with the brakes: they would engage when the unit was shut down, but they would not release when the forwarder was run- ning. The logger disabled this brake engage system and relied on just the pedal brake while operating. (The pedal brake worked fine when the machine was running, but it did not operate when the engine was turned off.) The forwarder was low on fuel during the time of this incident.

When the operator started down the slope to gather wood, the fuel ran to one end of the tank, and the engine died. Since the pedal brake did not work when the engine shut down, and the shutoff brake system wasdisabled, the forwarder “took off ” down the hill. It traveled 15 to 20 feet before rolling over on its side. The forwarder boom was extended to the side with a grapple of wood that could not release. This circumstance may have shifted the machine’s center of gravity and contrib- uted to the rollover, but it might also have prevented a more severe rollover impact.

The operator was not injured. He could have suffered a severe injury if the unit had completely
rolled over.

•    Never disable a machine’s braking system.
•    Keep equipment properly fueled.
•    Wear a seatbelt as required by OSHA when operating a forwarder and other mobile
logging equipment.
•    Inspect the machine before every work shift, and do not operate it until any mechani- cal
problems have been fixed. (Lockout/tagout any equipment not safe to operate; ensure that employees have been trained in lockout/tagout policies and procedures; see FRA Loss Control Overview #2 for details: http://loggingsafety.com/sites/log- gingsafety.com/files/bulletin_pdfs/LCO-2.pdf.)

Reviewed by:
Southwide Safety Committee;
Rick Meyer

Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager
Please  follow  equipment  manufacturers’  recommendations  for  safe  operation  and maintenance procedures.