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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 201128758 - Employee Injures Leg When Struck By Maneuvering Tow Tractor

Accident: 201128758 -- Report ID: 0950613 -- Event Date: 07/29/2011
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
31010078909/27/20114512Sky West Airlines
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on July 29, 2011, Employees #1 and a coworker, both airline workers, were performing a pushback operation for one of the flights. A "pushback" is the delivery of the aircraft from the terminal gate to the taxi way in preparation for departure. The coworker was operating a Lektro tow tractor, Model Number 2004AP8750BAL, Serial Number 82327-8040, to assist in moving the aircraft, while Employee #1 served as the guide person (or wing walker). The tow tractor, which was electrically powered, measured approximately 13 feet long and had a 3 foot hydraulic nose cradle. Its combined weight, including the body and battery, was approximately 11,000 pounds. The operator cab contained a forward/reverse throttle, two foot pedals and a steering wheel. The operator must stand on a "dead man" brake (left foot pedal) for the tow tractor to move, while the right foot pedal is used to stop the tow tractor. The steering mechanism, which was located directly above the rear wheel, allowed for the tow tractor to maneuver from the rear. During operation of the tow tractor, operators were trained to take the following actions in maintaining positive control: (1) control the throttle (2) press the brake (3) step off the dead man brake. In addition to operating the tow tractor, the coworker was required to operate the headset communication between the aircraft pilot and ground crew, as well as maintain visual contact with the wing walker (Employee #1) and ensure the plane's pathway is clear of potential hazards. After the pushback operation was completed and the airplane was on the taxi way, the coworker inadvertently struck Employee #1 with the tow tractor during its maneuvering. Employee #1 was taken to a nearby medical facility, where he was hospitalized and treated for a fractured left tibula, fibula and ankle. The accident investigation determined that the accident was a result of improper equipment operation and not from any equipment malfunction or environmental conditions. However, the employer had other incidents involving the Lektro tow tractor that resulted in occupational injuries. The employer was cited for failure to meet the following requirements: (1) The operator shall keep the tow tractor under positive control at all times as required per Section 3650 (t)(9) of the Title Eight Regulations; and (2) Operators shall look in the direction of travel and shall not move a vehicle until certain that all persons are in the clear as required per section 3650 (t)(12).
Keywords: fracture, airport, equipment operator, struck by, ankle, inattention, leg
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 310100789 Hospitalized injury Fracture Occupation not reported

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