Grader slides, then rolls over while snow clearing on Forest Service Road

Safety Alert Type: 
Resource Roads
Location: 
Holyk Forest Service Road (near Revelstoke)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
2014-12-03
Company Name: 
Downie Timber Ltd. (Woodlands Division)
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

At roughly 5:00 a.m. a grader operator was relocating a grader (750A Champion model) to clean up excess snow from a branch road that could not be previously cleaned due to sloppy, wet, heavy snow conditions. Cooler temperatures and good ground freezing made conditions more suitable for road cleaning.

The machine was in good repair - last being inspected in the mechanics shop on Nov 5, 2014. A logging contractor’s loader was blocking access on the road so the contractor moved the machine so the grader operator could get by and proceed with clearing the road.

The grader operator was driving the machine with the wings up in first gear. While moving up the road past an existing slide path and into an area where the road pitch increases slightly, the grader “hopped” a bit and the machine’s engine stalled. Due to the machine configuration, when the engine stalled the operator lost braking function, hydraulics and power steering. The secondary steering mechanism is arm strong and very difficult to control.

When the grader stalled it began to roll backwards down the road. The operator fought to steer the machine towards a holding wall that was constructed in the fall (attempted to drop pans with the float button) but the machine picked up speed and he could not control the direction of movement.

The machine travelled backwards down the road grade for 44 metres. At this point it tipped over the road cut backwards and started to slide down the boundary of the cut block and the existing slide path. The machine caught on a hummock in the ground causing it to flip violently and roll. The front end of the grader caught on a mature cedar tree, coming to rest on its right side 31 metres down slope from the road (see photos in attached pdf).

The operator was shaken up but able to climb out through the broken front window of the machine and walk a short distance down the road to where the logging contractor was working. Luckily, the grader operator escaped this incident with a minor cut to the top of his head and some muscle stiffness.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

Companies should be inspecting their machines to ensure that they have sufficient secondary braking and steering mechanisms and ensuring that equipment being used is engineered for the conditions in which they are working.

Although not a contributing factor, the company is also implementing a policy that heavily snowed-in work should be carried out during day light hours when visibility is good.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Downie Timber Ltd. Woodlands Division (250) 837-2222

File attachments
Safety_Alert_Downie_Timber_2014-12-3.pdf
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