13-S-02: Skidder Falls Into Collapsing Culvert Void

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS: The 55-year-old skidder operator had been employed in the logging business for approximately 35 years, and he was considered fully trained for the job. It is not known whether he was wearing a seatbelt.


UNSAFE CONDITIONS: The old road on the woodyard had not been used for approximately 10 years. The skidder operator failed to inspect the road, and he did not look at the culvert that was underneath one section of the road, so he did not notice that the culvert had rusted. The bands connecting the culvert sections were completely rusted through. Additionally, the soil around the culvert had washed out and left a void under the road.


ACCIDENT: When the skidder moved over the rusted culvert, the soil collapsed, and the front end of the skidder dropped approximately five feet down into 34-SKIDDERFALLShole made by the collapsed section. INJURY: Fortunately, the skidder operator was not injured, and the machine was not damaged significantly.



•Inspect old culverts and roads prior to use.

• If a section of a road is unsafe and will not be repaired immediately, block it off, close it, and otherwise mark it with barriers, so that no one can be injured. (This road has now been closed, with a fence and barriers placed on each side.)

• Ensure that all equipment operators always wear seat belts when the machine is moving.


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