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DATE: May 13, 1996

INCIDENT TYPE: Injury Accident

LOCATION: District 2

TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY: Equipment Operation

THE ACCIDENT: On the morning of May 10, 1996, a Caltrans Equipment Operator was using a loader to dump material over an embankment on Highway 36 in Trinity County. As the operator was dumping the bucket, the embankment gave way and the loader tumbled approximately 200 feet down the embankment, rolling over as many as three times. The injured operator crawled out of the loader and laid on the ground until found by a co-worker. The operator sustained bruises and a cut to the back of the head. She was med-flighted to a local hospital, treated, and released from the hospital three days later.

CONCLUSIONS: The embankment could not support the weight of the loader and gave way. Since 1973, two Caltrans equipment operators have been killed in similar loader roll-over accidents.

Fortunately, this operator was wearing a seat belt and the loader was equipped with a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS). The use of the seat belt prevented a serious or possibly fatal injury in this case.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Always be aware of the terrain at all times when operating equipment. Check embankments on foot before operating any equipment in the area. Build a berm prior to dumping over banks, keep the loader bucket low while approaching the dump site and, if possible, approach the edge with the length of the loader perpendicular to the edge.

Always wear a seat belt in any equipment. The ROPS is designed to protect the operator in the event of a roll-over, but it cannot adequately provide protection without the use of the seat belt by the operator.


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