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Hazard

Employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck by a lift truck transporting a load that obstructed the forward view.

Process

Material handling-loading both break bulk cargo and intermodal shipping containers on a wharf.

Activity at time of incident:

The operator of a forklift truck with a front squeeze attachment was carrying a load of two rolls of paper stacked on top of each other to load into a container. He drove out of the warehouse along the right side of a top loader and container to deliver the paper rolls. A clerk was walking on the wharf along the left side of the top loader at this time.

Incident Description

Setting:

A lift truck operator with a squeeze attachment was carrying two rolls of paper from a warehouse to the container located on the wharf. Each load consisted of two rolls, stacked one on top of the other. The load was 64 inches tall and 40 inches in diameter, and weighed 2,600 pounds. The operator drove with the load positioned in front of him, with the bottom roll about 12 inches off the ground. This put the top roll of paper approximately 11 inches higher than the steering wheel which obstructed the forward view. At the same time, a top loader was operating on the wharf apron, shifting containers around in preparation for loading them on the ship. A third employee, a clerk, walked onto the wharf during this operation.

Incident:

At the time of the incident, the top loader operator had set a 20-foot container in the open area west and upriver of the warehouse door. The longer side of the top loader was parallel to the river. The clerk exited the warehouse door and proceeded to walk along the left side of the top loader. The lift truck operator drove out of the warehouse door and veered to the right side of the top loader to reach the container. The lift truck and the clerk were going in the same direction on opposite sides of the container. The clerk walked past the end of the container, into the path of the oncoming lift truck. The lift truck driver's view of the clerk was blocked by his load of paper rolls. The truck struck and crushed the clerk beneath the load of paper rolls.

Relevant Factors:

The top of the lift truck load (paper rolls) blocked the driver's forward view. The lift truck operator took a wide turn around the top loader because the front load obstructed his vision.

The lift truck operator failed to drive the truck with the load trailing which would have enabled the driver to see the clerk walking.

Applicable Standards and Control Measures
  • 29 CFR 1917.43(b)(9): Powered industrial trucks - General. "If the load obstructs the forward view, the employer shall direct drivers to travel with the load trailing."

This hazard could have been prevented by requiring the operator to travel with the load trailing to ensure that he had a clear forward view.

Additionally, safety signs reminding workers to avoid blind spots around machinery as well as reminders by the supervisor might have prevented this accident occurrence.

Other Relevant Standards and/or Control Measures
  • 29 CFR 1917.43(b)(8): Powered industrial trucks - General. "The employer shall direct drivers to slow down and sound the horn at crossaisles and other locations where visibility is obstructed."

Operators are required to sound the horn at turns whenever the field of vision is obstructed.

  • 29 CFR 1910.178(l): Powered industrial trucks - Operator training. "The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l) ."

Operators must be trained, through initial and periodic refresher training, to observe all safe operating procedures.

Additionally, safe access routes must be established for pedestrians who pass through areas where lift trucks are operating.

Accidents Summary No. 8: The victim walked past the end of the container into the path of the oncoming lift truck and was struck and killed. The lift truck operator's forward view was obstructed by the load of paper rolls.

Accidents Summary No. 8: The victim walked past the end of the container into the path of the oncoming lift truck and was struck and killed.
The lift truck operator's forward view was obstructed by the load of paper rolls.

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