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Operator dies after being caught between bulldozer’s track and fender

Washington Case Report: 10WA015
Release Date: September 14, 2012

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In February of 2010, a 68-year-old male construction crew supervisor and heavy equipment operator died of injuries he received after being crushed between the track and fender of his bulldozer. The operator was employed by a contractor that does site development, single family home construction, and commercial construction work. He had previously owned a construction contracting business and had 48 years of experience operating bulldozers and other heavy construction equipment.

On the day of the fatal incident, the operator was supervising a crew. The crew was working at a job site zoned for commercial development, where structural fill was being brought in and dumped and then leveled and compacted. As dump trucks hauled fill onto the site, the operator was using a Caterpillar D4H Series II bulldozer to level the fill and was also directing the drivers as to where they should deposit their loads.

At 7:40 AM, the operator exited the bulldozer on its right side to speak with a truck driver about where the driver should deposit his load of fill. When he did this, he left the bulldozer running and did not set the parking brake. After giving instructions to the truck driver, he walked to the bulldozer’s left side and then walked up its track to return to the operator’s seat. As he was standing on top of the track his elbow hit the transmission lever shifting the dozer out of neutral into reverse. When the bulldozer began moving backward, his left foot became caught between the moving track and the underside of the fender. As the bulldozer continued moving backward his left leg was pulled in and crushed. The operator was carried several yards before being ejected onto the ground.

The truck driver with whom the operator had just spoken used his radio to call emergency medical services and then went to aid the operator. Emergency responders arrived within three minutes and the victim was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries 15 days later.

Operator dies after being caught between bulldozer’s track and fender [PDF 1,209KB]