13-S-03: Loader Topples Into Ditch During Moving Process

BACKGROUND: On a clear, summer afternoon in the Southeast, a skidder was pulling a knuckleboom loader along a narrow, level woods road, so the loader could be connected to a truck during moving operations.



The foreman/loader operator was 37 years old and had been logging for approximately 14 years. The skidder operator was 65 years old and had approximately 40 years of logging experience. Both individuals were considered fully trained and were wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.



The skidder pulled the loader while the loader’s boom and outriggers were still in the “up” position. (The boom was facing the rear of the loader.) The skidder then began to turn with the loader at a road intersection. The intersection was quite narrow and had a narrow culvert. As the skidder pulled the loader, the loader’s tires got too close to the edge of the narrow road intersection.



The road bank gave way, and the loader toppled over into a large canal ditch that was full of (still) water.



No one was injured in this accident: The loader operator was not in his machine, and the skidder grapple lost hold of the loader, so the skidder did not turn over. The loader’s upright boom made contact with the bank on the off-side of the ditch and prevented the loader from tipping completely upside down in the ditch. The loader did leak out some diesel fuel that was quickly contained, cleaned up, and reported to state authorities. The loader sustained a twisted chassis and three broken bolts that held the loader to the chassis. It took about eight hours of work and cost about $1,000 in parts and labor to recover and repair the machine.



• When moving a loader, be aware of the high center of gravity of this machine and the impact of keeping outriggers up too high.

• Always rest the boom on the tongue of the knuckleboom loader before the loader is moved by any means (instead of keeping it up in the air).

• Evaluate the road conditions before moving a loader. Slow down, and be especially watchful at narrow woods road intersections and road edges.


Reviewed by: Southwide Safety Committee;
Rick Meyer Appalachian/Southwide Region Manager
Please follow equipment manufacturers’ recommendations for safe operation and maintenance procedures.