Cable Yarder Operator Dies When Caught in Drive Shaft



On a winter day in the Pacific Northwest, a cable yarder operator was bringing in turns of logs to the landing. The rigging crew was working downslope from the yard. Weather was not a factor.

Personal Characteristics

The yarder operator’s experience and training were unknown.

Unsafe Acts and Conditions

The drive shaft of the yarder was unguarded. The yarder engine was running while the operator looked for the problem.


The victim had just brought a turn of logs to the landing. The rigging crew had radioed up to the victim and asked the operator if he could check out why the skyline was stripping off the drum as the turn was being sent in. The victim radioed back and said he would check it out. The victim exited the cab of the yarder, with the engine still running, and was seen walking back towards the back of the yarder. The victim looked underneath the yarder to investigate an issue concerning the brake drum. A minute or so later, the chaser stated he thought he heard a noise and went to investigate. The chaser said he walked to the passenger side of the yarder and saw the victim entangled in the drive shaft of the machine.


A piece of the operator’s clothing was caught in an unguarded drive line. The victim became entangled, resulting in a fatality.

Recommendations for Corrections

  • All exposed moving parts, such as drive shafts, pulleys, belts, conveyors, and gears on machinery and equipment, must be guarded to prevent worker exposure to moving parts.
  • The equipment should always be de-energized, with the engine shut down, when examining or repairing the machine.