The Truck Driver
The 45-year-old truck driver had worked for the multi-state potato harvesting and transport company for about four months. He had received training on how to load and tie town this kind of equipment when he was hired.
On the morning of the incident, the truck driver got to the worksite around 7:00 a.m. and began loading four conveyor belt tables onto a lowboy flatbed trailer. The wheeled conveyor belt tables were 41 feet long and weighed about 3000 lbs. each. The semi-truck and trailer were parked on a slight slope. It is unclear why the truck driver attempted to load the conveyor belt tables on his own. Company policy was to get one or two other employees to help load this kind of equipment onto trailers. He had done a similar loading job the day before with the help of other employees.
The truck driver used a forklift to stack two conveyor belt tables on top of each other on each side of the trailer. He did not chain down the tables or chock the wheels to keep them from moving. After loading all four tables, the truck driver parked the forklift then returned to the trailer and started to lay out equipment to tie down the load. Normal procedure would have been to leave the forklift in place supporting the stacked tables while they were secured to the trailer with chains.
Around this time, a truck driver from another company drove onto the worksite. He witnessed the first truck driver get out of his cab and walk around behind the loaded trailer. As the witness drove past the truck and trailer, he noticed that two of the conveyor belt tables had fallen off of the lowboy and were laying on the ground. He did not see the truck driver. When the witness walked over to find out what had happened, he saw that the tables had fallen onto the truck driver. The witness and another worker used a forklift and a front-end loader to lift the tables off of the truck driver, and then called 911. Emergency responders arrived and pronounced the truck driver dead at the scene.
An investigation determined that:
1. The truck driver did not ask other employees on site for help when loading the conveyor belt tables onto the lowboy trailer, as was company policy.
2. Wheels on the conveyor belt tables were not chocked or chained to keep them from moving after they were loaded onto the trailer before the load was tied down.
- Train drivers to follow safe loading procedures, and ensure that they understand and follow procedures on every load.
- Train drivers to recognize potential safety hazards before loading, and to develop plans to keep loads stable during the loading process.
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP)
PO Box 44330
Olympia, WA 98504-4330
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.
WA FACE Investigation Reports, Fatality Narratives, Hazard Alerts and Data Summaries can be found at www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/FACE
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.