Skidder operator suffers concussion, whiplash

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Johnson Lake (near Barriere, BC)
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Interfor Corporation (Adams Lake Division)
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A skidder operator blacked out while bringing in his second drag of the day. When he woke up a few moments later, he had no recollection as to what happened. He had a headache and a sore neck and back.

The medical examination indicated a concussion due to a bump on the head behind the left ear and also whiplash. The doctor recommended rest for a few days.

The skidder was a CAT 535. The operator was wearing his seatbelt. At the location of the incident, snow had melted and a 40 cm stump was visible along the skid trail.

The investigation speculates that the operator either hit the stump with his blade or drove over it with a tire, which may have caused an unexpected and abrupt movement of the skidder.

It is thought that the operator both hit his head on the Roll Over Protection structure (ROPs) and also whiplashed his back and neck.

(pdf of this alert is attached)

Learnings and Suggestions: 
  • In machines where the ROPs are in close proximity to the operator, consider installing padding or requiring the operator to wear a helmet or hard hat while in the cab.
  • Teach skidder operators to watch for changing conditions, especially melting snow, which can expose previously buried hazards.
  • Ensure lighting is adequate, considering both the machine lights and daylight, especially in areas with variable terrain features.
  • Evaluate the ergonomics of machine seats and that they match the height and weight of the operator. Consider using a seat with a headrest and seatbelts that harness in the shoulders.
  • Keep skidder blade up high enough to avoid catching on stumps or other debris.


For more information on this submitted alert: 

Ed Coombes, Interfor Corporation Adams Lake Division (250) 679-6863

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