Safety Issues


Truck driver crushed by front-end loader in mill yard

A log truck driver arrived shortly after the mill yard opened. His was the eighth truck to be unloaded. The unloading process required a front-end loader to secure the load once two of the four wrappers were removed allowing the driver to safely detach the last two wrappers. Assuming the truck driver was in his cab, the front-end loader operator moved forward to secure the load. A second loader operator working in the yard at the time saw a hard hat on the ground near the truck, and radioed to the first operator to back away. The truck driver was found dead at the scene crushed between the front-end loader and the load.



The 50-year-old log truck driver in this incident worked as an independent operator. He drove a truck owned by another individual, but was not considered an employee. The owner took care of the truck and the driver billed the owner for time worked. It is unclear how many years the driver had been driving log trucks, but he was known as a careful driver. As an independent contractor, the driver was not covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance, and was responsible for his own safety training   


In this incident, the loader operator assumed the driver was in the cab of his truck, because he was not visible, and it appeared the middle two wrappers on the load were already removed. The operator moved the front-end loader forward to secure the load on the truck, so the remaining two wrappers could be safely removed. The view in front of the loader, though well lit, was obstructed by the unloading arms of the machine. The log truck driver was evidently still in the process of removing the first two wrappers from the load as the front-end loader approached. He was crushed between the loader and the load of logs




Log yard rules were posted at the main entrance to the log yard. Rules required hard hats, four wrappers on the load, and that drivers always stay in clear view. According to interviews, the unloading procedures were relayed to the independent truck drivers either verbally or not at all, and the log yard policy/procedures were not consistently followed by personnel working in the yard.

Normal operating procedures at the yard called for log truck drivers to park in an area designated by the loader operator. Drivers were then allowed to remove two of the four wrappers on the load. Once the loader operator saw the two wrappers had been removed, the front-end-loader would be moved forward to secure the load while the driver removed the remaining two wrappers. After the last two wrappers were removed, drivers would stand at the front or rear of the truck as the load was lifted off. Drivers regularly helped other drivers pull wrappers. Drivers were not required to be in a certain position when the unloading machines approached the load.

The log yard had just opened for the day. The morning was dark and foggy.  The front-end loader used lights on the machine to help with visibility.  However, an operator of mobile machinery may often find the view forward obstructed by the raised arms of the loader, especially when loaded.

Individuals involved in this incident agreed it would not have occurred if they had followed existing log yard rules. A major difficulty in this instance is the necessary cooperation between permanent staff at the yard and a large number of independent truck drivers who may not be adequately informed of safe policies and procedures while unloading their trucks. From the perspective of the drivers, the unloading process is likely to be different at each different log yard.



  • Eye contact and a designated “ready” signal must be established between a mobile machinery operator and a truck driver working together to load or unload a truck.

  • Regular safety training and retraining should occur in a hazardous work environment.

  • A site hazard assessment should include a documented job safety analysis and disciplinary process.

Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences
Oregon Health & Science University
3181 SW Jackson Park Rd, L606
Portland, OR  97239-9878

Safety Issues is presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA), with major contributions from State partners funded by NIOSH through the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program.  The goal of the FACE Program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then developing and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace. State partners who contribute Safety Issues postings based on recent investigative reports are California, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington.

This month’s Safety Issues is based on an investigative report from the Oregon FACE Program. The complete detailed Oregon FACE INVESTIGATION REPORT:  #OR 2004-21-1 includes additional case information, recommendations and discussion. This report can be found at   Additional OR-FACE Investigation Reports, Annual Reports, Hazard Alerts and other publications can be accessed through Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at

The Safety Issues and Investigation Reports which are the products of NIOSH Cooperative State partners are presented here in their original unedited form from the states. They are intended for educational purposes only. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the NIOSH.