Serious Incident: Processor head feeds tree into cab, breaking trainee operator’s leg

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
57 km’s north of Fort St. James
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Newland Enterprises Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A trainee was on his third day on the job, operating a tree processor. Somehow he accidentally bumped the ‘Auto Repeat’, which automatically feeds the tree through the head after a saw cut.

The processor head was turned towards the cab in an attempt to eject the tree into the brush pile, but instead it came directly at the cab, piercing a hole through the half-inch thick Lexan cab window (see photos in attached pdf).

The tree passed between the steel bars as well and continued forward, striking the operator’s leg and breaking it severely.

The trainee operator was able to call for help on the radio. He was tended to by co-workers before being transported to hospital in Fort St. James.

Immediate Cause(s):

• Failure to follow safe work practices or rules: The processor head should not be positioned in this manner.

• Improper use of equipment: The auto-repeat is only used in rare cases, not for daily production.

• Inadequate grip or hold: The operator’s right hand may have slipped, causing it to engage the auto-repeat button.

Description of Root Cause(s):

• Inadequate assessment of needs, risks and/or hazards: The trainee operator was unaware of the potential hazard of the processor head’s auto-repeat function.

• Inadequate training standards: More awareness and understanding of the auto-repeat feature is required as well as its location on the key pad.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

• The auto-repeat function was disabled the following day

• The incident will be discussed at the next crew safety meeting

• Machine functions and safe operating procedures will be reviewed with workers

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Steve Willick, Newland Enterprises Ltd. (250) 996-8838

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