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A lumberyard forklift operator died after being crushed between two railcar couplings.

NIOSH 2005 Mar; :1-5
On September 24, 2004, a 31-year-old forklift operator for a lumber company died when he was crushed between the couplings of two railcars. The victim was working with two other employees to position and "couple," or connect, the railcars for loading and shipping. One worker was operating a forklift, which was being used to push one loaded railcar toward a second, stationary, empty car, while the victim and the third worker acted as spotters. After noticing that the couplers (devices to connect the railcars) were not aligned properly and would not connect, the decedent pulled himself up the ladder on the moving car and attempted to kick the coupler into position. The two railcars hit, causing the victim to fall between them. He was subsequently crushed when the second railcar hit the railcar stop and recoiled back toward him. The second spotter immediately called for assistance by radio and emergency medical services (EMS) transported the victim to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Oklahoma Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OKFACE) investigators concluded that to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1. Ensure that employees do not enter the space between railcars that are being moved, including during procedures of coupling and uncoupling. 2. Provide a means of communication between employees who are performing interrelated job tasks that may be impeded by noise, line of sight/visual contact, speed, or weight. 3. Develop written policies and procedures that promote safe work practices for jobs that involve employee exposure to a hazardous area or practice. 4. Provide documented training on policies and procedures regarding workplace hazards and exposures and the controls to protect employees from those hazards.
Region-6; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Training; Safety-programs; Warning-devices; Warning-signals; Warning-signs; Warning-systems; Work-practices; Lumber-industry-workers; Lumber-industry; Railroad-cars; Railroads; Ladders
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-04OK071; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-613938; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008342
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Oklahoma State Department of Health