Logging processor lost traction and rolled down hillside fatally injuring operator – Idaho

NIOSH FACE Report 2020-01
April 28, 2022


On January 25, 2019, a 32-year-old processor operator was fatally injured when his equipment rolled down a previously logged (clear-cut) hillside. The processor operator was driving the equipment from a spur road to a main logging road. As the processor operator approached a narrow inside corner in the road near a log deck, the tracks on the equipment slipped laterally on the outsloped road. The equipment slid off the road and temporary stopped on logs that had been decked.


Occupational injuries and fatalities are often the result of one or more contributing factors or key events in a larger sequence of events that ultimately result in the injury or fatality. NIOSH investigators identified the following unrecognized hazards as key contributing factors in this incident:

  • Road design and maintenance
  • Road hazard assessment
  • Operator training
  • Position of equipment and boom during travel
  • Operator protection design did not include Falling Object Protection Structure (FOPS), Tip Over Protection Structures (TOPS) and Roll Over Protection Structures (ROPS)
  • Processing head attachment stowing or stabilization


NIOSH investigators concluded that, to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

    • road designers should limit outsloping on forest roads with potential winter travel
    • employers should conduct a hazard assessment when working with forestry equipment in areas of steep terrain and provide worker training on hazard recognition as part of a comprehensive and site-specific safety plan


Logging processor lost traction and rolled down hillside fatally injuring operator – Idaho [PDF 1,023KB] Report Visual Extension [1,600 KB]


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. In 1982, NIOSH initiated the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. FACE examines the circumstances of targeted causes of traumatic occupational fatalities so that safety professionals, researchers, employers, trainers, and workers can learn from these incidents. The primary goal of these investigations is for NIOSH to make recommendations to prevent similar occurrences. These NIOSH investigations are intended to reduce or prevent occupational deaths and are completely separate from the rulemaking, enforcement and inspection activities of any other federal or state agency. Under the FACE program, NIOSH investigators interview persons with knowledge of the incident and review available records to develop a description of the conditions and circumstances leading to the deaths in order to provide a context for the agency’s recommendations. The NIOSH summary of these conditions and circumstances in its reports is not intended as a legal statement of facts. This summary, as well as the conclusions and recommendations made by NIOSH, should not be used for the purpose of litigation or the adjudication of any claim. For further information, visit the program website at www.cdc.gov/niosh/face/ or call toll free at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

Page last reviewed: May 24, 2022