Safety Issues



The Truck Operator

The semi-truck driver was a 46-year-old high school graduate, married father of two, and trucking company owner-operator. The victim’s company had been in business since July 6, 2008. He had been subcontracted by a trucking company to deliver and pick up steel coils at a heavy metal stamping company.


The Incident Scene
The incident scene was a steel receiving metal warehouse where steel coils were loaded and unloaded onto tractor trailers. The truck and trailer were at a loading dock.



The Investigation


On June 15, 2015, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet notified the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program of a fatality involving a semi-truck driver who died after being crushed by a steel coil in a warehouse loading zone. An investigation was conducted.

A 46-year-old self-employed semi-truck driver (the victim) had been subcontracted by a small trucking company to make a steel coil delivery and subsequent pickup from a heavy metal stamping company. He was to deliver five large steel coils and to load 3 additional coils that were being shipped out from the stamping company.

The truck driver, who had made deliveries in the past to this same location, secured and unsecured the steel coils as they were loaded and unloaded from the flatbed trailer. Using a 40 ton bridge crane (Figure 3), the crane operator moved the steel coils onto and off of the trailer (Figure 6). The bridge crane was operated by a remote control which was mounted to the end of a power cord and hung laterally from the ceiling; this allowed mobility for the bridge crane operator when using the crane.

The Loading Process

Arriving to the warehouse at 8:00 am, the truck driver parked his trailer in the loading dock, exited his cab, and greeted the crane operator. The flatbed trailer had arrived with five steel coils that were standing upright and were secured with chains and ratchet straps. Each coil had a footprint measuring 17.32 inches wide, weighed 7.6 tons, and rested on two 4”x4” hardwood posts.

The truck driver and the bridge crane operator removed three of the five steel coils before loading the first of the 3 coils that were to be shipped out. Next, the crane operator used the bridge crane to remove the remaining two coils from the flatbed trailer that were to be delivered before proceeding to load the second steel coil to be shipped

The Incident

The crane operator turned away from the coils and crane and proceeded to exit the bed of the trailer. As he exited the truck bed, he actuated the controls of the crane to move it up and away from the coil. Moving vertically, the crane began drawing the sling through the center opening of coil. Suddenly the crane operator heard a noise and turned to see what happened. The sling, though disconnected, had become snagged in part of the coil’s eye, and the upward motion caused the coil to topple over onto the truck driver. The crane operator immediately radioed for the company’s internal emergency response team to report to his area. The response team arrived to find the truck driver pinned face down on the bed of the truck by the 7.6-ton steel coil. The coil struck the truck driver across his posterior thoracic area, coming to rest on his lower lumbar region and legs.

Emergency Medical services were call and dispatched at 8:21 am and arrived within 6 minutes from dispatch. The police were dispatched at 8:22 am and the coroner was called at 8:36 am. The coroner pronounced the truck driver dead on the scene.


Steel coils and other cargo that could tip over should be properly secured to the trailer bed prior to detachment from bridge cranes.

  • Workers should maintain visual contact with the cargo and crane at all times during crane operation.
  • Written policies for loading and unloading should include that personnel be restricted from the loading zone during mechanized loading and unloading activities.
  • After placing and securing the steel coil in the intended location, authorized loading zone personnel should ensure that slings and other attachments are free of the coil’s eye before actuating the crane away from the coil.

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 HIOSH 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, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan New York, Oregon and Washington.

This month’s Safety issues is based on an investigative report from Kentucky FACE Program. The complete detailed Kentucky FACE INVESTIGATION REPORT: 15KY)063 includes additional case information, recommendations and discussion. This report can be found at Further information on the Kentucky FACE Program, including additional Kentucky FACE Investigation Reports, Hazard Alerts, and fatality summaries can be accessed 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 of policy of the NIOSH.