Radiator Caps: Check them often, avoid injury!

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Whatshan Lake (near Nakusp, BC)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Pilot Point Forest Consultants
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

The worker was operating a log loader on a hot day and noticed that the engine temperature was rising. He stopped the machine and let it idle for 15 minutes, the typical length of time needed to cool off while clearing debris from the radiator screen. Intending to check the engine coolant level after the cool-down, he went to turn the radiator cap one-quarter turn in order to release the pressure. However, as soon as he turned the cap the pressure inside the radiator blew it off and hot coolant struck him in the face and on the neck. He immediately ran to a nearby stream to wash his face in cold water (fortunately, his eyes were closed when the spillage happened).

A co-worker tended to his injuries and drove him to a hospital for examination. He was released but had to take four days off to allow skin to heal.

A new radiator cap was put on the machine and it is much tighter and harder to turn than the old one, which was very easy to turn. It is suspected the old one (which could not be found after the incident) was worn out or defective as it did not catch at the pressure-release position. Also, the recovery tank on the loader was inoperative and could not be used to check coolant levels.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

• Always ensure that an adequate period of time has elapsed for the engine to cool down before checking coolant levels.

• To prevent injury from any spillage of hot coolant, stand back from the radiator cap when opening it and cover the cap with a rag to catch or disperse any coolant spill.

• Ensure that radiator caps are included in routine maintenance checks and ensure they are operating as required.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information: Rick Johnson, Pilot Point Forest Consultants 250-365-9983

File attachments
Radiator Caps: Check them often, avoid injury!.pdf
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