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Hazard

Employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck by a front-end loader.

Process

A front-end loader is used to move railcars from one track to another for loading.

Activity at time of incident:

A longshoreman walked between two railroad tracks and stepped into the path of a front-end loader as it backed up.

Incident Description

Setting:

Longshoremen are using the bucket of a front-end loader to push empty rail cars from one rail track to another, using the bucket of a front-end loader. The tracks are located near a grain loading area at a marine terminal facility. The front-end loader operator moves the railcars from the "empty" track to the "load" track. These tracks are parallel and about 12.5 feet apart. The operator backs up in a semi-circle to move between the tracks. The front-end loader was not equipped with a back-up alarm.

Incident:

About five minutes before the incident, a longshoreman working in a different part of the facility walked over to the area between the two tracks, passing between two railcars on the load track. At the same time, the front-end loader operator had just finished pushing two railcars along the load track to make room for another car and was backing up in a semi-circular direction from the load track to the empty track. The front-end loader operator was not aware that the longshoreman had entered the area and did not see him as he looked over his right shoulder while backing up. The longshoreman, who was standing about three feet from the rear of the front-end loader, was run over and killed by the vehicle's right rear tire.

Relevant Factors:

The front-end loader was manufactured in 1971 before back-up alarms were available as standard or optional equipment.

Applicable Standards and Control Measures
  • 29 CFR 1917.17(b): Railroad facilities. "A route shall be established to allow employees to pass to and from places of employment without passing under, over or through railcars, or between cars less than 10 feet (3m) apart on the same track."

This hazard could have been prevented if the employer had established safe access routes and work areas for employees who must pass through or work in areas where the front-end loader was operating.

Other Relevant Standards and/or Control Measures
  • Strobe lights may be useful in alerting the victim to the presence of the front-end loader.
  • Back-up alarms are not required unless they were originally installed by the manufacturer. If the front-end loader is not equipped with a reverse signal alarm, an employee should be stationed at the operation to signal when it is safe to back up whenever the operator has an obstructed view to the rear.
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