Close Call: Brush cutter operator oblivious to others

Location: 
Edgewood, BC (north of Castlegar)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2012-06-15
Company Name: 
Sitkum Consulting Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Workers were split up in two vehicles (the client in the first vehicle, the two hired contractors in the second) driving up a logging road to a work site. Both pickups were equipped with radios and had switched to the frequency posted at the start of the logging road. They were making the standard calls to anyone else on the road as they ascended, and heard no other activity on the air.

The first truck suddenly came upon a brush cutter operating on the side of the road. There had been no signage or flagging warning them of the operating machine, so they used their radios to get the driver’s attention. No response. The operator caught site of the first truck – there was eye contact made and a wave – and pulled over to let him pass. But the operator didn’t look to see if there was anyone else behind, and because his cabin was facing outside of the road, he didn’t see the second vehicle.

Despite slowing right down and approaching the machine carefully to follow the first truck, the second truck was suddenly caught right next to the brush blade which had started up again. Unable to back up quickly enough or get the attention of the operator with their radios, horns, or waving hands, the blade came within inches of their windshield with the two occupants of the truck trapped inside. Only at the last second did the operator finally see them, and turned his machine away and off.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

The brush cutter operator was a hired contractor working independently on site, and failed to comply with the rules of the road (i.e. being on the posted radio frequency, posting signs & flagging of the active machinery in operation, being alert to other traffic on the road, etc.). He was reported to the appropriate people, but workers should keep in mind:

• Be aware that on forest roads other vehicles may not follow the same road use rules

• Always assume an oversized vehicle may be around the next corner

• When travelling in a convoy, allow plenty of space between vehicles for safe reaction time

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information: Sitkum Consulting Ltd., sitkum@telus.net 

File attachments
Close Call: Brush cutter operator oblivious to others.pdf
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