Section I: Vehicular Accidents
Summary No. 6 - Container Ship Unloading/Transfer Operations
Employees were exposed to the hazard of being struck by/run over by a truck operating in a high traffic area on a dock.
A shore-based crane is used to unload and transfer intermodal shipping containers from a vessel to trucks equipped with container chassis.
Activity at time of incident:
The clerk supervisor was walking on the dock in the narrow space between two trucks, performing container checks and handling paperwork.
A container vessel loaded with two different kinds of containers, a standard container and a refrigerated (reefer) type, is moored to the dock. A shore-based crane lifts containers off the vessel and places them onto the container chassis of hustler yard trucks parked at the dock. The trucks, which are 8 feet wide and 55 feet long, then transport the containers to a designated location in the holding yard. The dock is approximately 40 feet wide and has four truck lanes, each approximately 9.75 feet wide (inside to inside), running parallel to the moored vessel. When both types of containers are unloaded from vessels, it requires two way traffic because the containers are placed onto the vessel in a different manner. The painted lane markings are very worn and difficult to see. Only a few traffic cones are in the area to identify the individual lanes.
Two gangs are unloading the container vessel. Each gang consists of truck drivers, longshoremen (who secure the containers on the truck chassis), a foreman (to supervise the gang operation), a crane operator, and ship clerks. The ship clerks walk on the dock among the trucks, checking the container numbers against the chassis numbers, visually inspecting the containers and handling paperwork.
The crane operator was unloading empty reefer containers from the vessel and placing them onto the hustler yard trucks. The first three lanes closest to the vessel were in use, occupied by a total of four trucks - one truck in each of the first two lanes (closest to the vessel) and two trucks facing in the opposite direction in the third lane. The rear truck in the third lane was not parked completely within its own lane. Its wheels projected into the second lane about three feet from the adjacent truck. A portion of the tires was in the narrow space in which the clerk supervisor was working, giving orders to the truck drivers who were traveling in opposite directions.
He was wearing an orange reflective vest and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - a hard hat, proper footwear, and clothing to cover the body. As the front truck in the third lane finished loading and pulled away, a longshoreman signaled the rear truck in the third lane to move into position to receive a container. The truck driver checked the left side mirror but not the right side mirror (the side where the clerk supervisor was standing) and began pulling forward. He did not see the clerk supervisor entering the path of the chassis tires. The truck's tandem rear wheels struck the clerk supervisor who was killed after being run over by the rear wheels as the truck pulled forward. The driver was traveling slowly, approximately one to five miles per hour, and traveled approximately 21 feet before stopping.
The lane markings were very worn in the work area and not adequately marked to ensure orderly traffic flow and to minimize congestion. Additionally, there were no established, routine procedures for directing and positioning truck traffic on the dock.
The rear tires that struck the employee were visible in the driver's right rear view mirror. The truck driver involved in the accident did not see the clerk supervisor. He and several other drivers indicated that they typically do not check their right mirrors when they are signaled to pull forward.
Employee safety training and enforcement were inadequate, based on the failure of drivers to use mirrors when pulling out of a parked position, the presence of poorly marked traffic lanes and the lack of cones at the accident site to identify lanes.
Applicable Standards and Control Measures
- 29 CFR 1917.44(f): Cargo Handling Gear and Equipment - General rules applicable to vehicles. "Vehicular routes, traffic rules, and parking areas shall be established, identified, and used."
This hazard could have been prevented if the employer had established clearly marked vehicle traffic lanes and pedestrian walkways that were wide enough to safely accommodate both trucks and the workers on foot. Resurfacing the dock and adding reflective stripping would have made the lanes easier to see at dusk/night or during rain. Additionally, the employer should have developed and enforced procedures for directing and positioning truck traffic on the dock. The hazard may also have been prevented if alternative procedures had been established to minimize or eliminate the need for clerks and other pedestrians to work in close proximity to the trucks.
Other Relevant Standards and/or Control Measures
- 29 CFR 1910.178 (l)(1)(i): Powered industrial trucks - Operator training - Safe operation. "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 (1)."
Employees should receive effective training in vehicular safety. For example, drivers should check both side mirrors before pulling forward and be alert to workers on the dock.