In March, 1999, a 66-year-old Iowa farmer was killed while cleaning out his barn with a skid-steer loader. He was driving into the building, then backing up, using the edge of the bucket to scrape manure off the concrete floor. The small barn was set up for feeding/riding horses, and storing equipment. On the barn wall were two doors with light metal gates which opened to the inside. During manure removal they would have to be kept out of the way by keeping them latched or secured to the wall in the open position. Desiring to clean along this wall, the farmer stopped the loader near one door, then leaned out of the machine to latch the gate. The loader bucket was in the raised position when the farmer leaned out to his right side under the loader lift arm. While leaning, he apparently touched the lift arm control lever with his leg or hand causing the bucket to drop. The right lift arm came down and pinned his body against the frame of the protective cage, causing suffocation. The man's 14-year-old grandson noticed what had happened, and ran to get his mother. She came to the aid of her father, but they were unfamiliar with the machine and could not raise the bucket. The man's son just happened to call the farm at this time, and shortly arrived and freed his father. He was taken to the hospital, but died the following day from his injuries. This skid-steer loader had a mechanical interlock connected to the operator's seat. This interlock would not allow the loader bucket and lift arm hydraulics to operate unless the operator was sitting in the seat. However the interlock was not fully operational. If the hydraulic control lever for the lift arms was slightly off center when the operator left the seat, the interlock would not function. This allowed the hydraulic control to move forward and lower the lift arms even when the operator was not sitting in the seat. This interlock problem likely contributed to the injury. Recommendations based on our investigation: 1. Operators of skid-steer loaders should not leave the seat while the machine is running. Likewise, they should not allow any part of their body to be under the raised loader bucket or lift arms, unless the loader is securely supported. 2. Manufacturers should provide several reliable mechanisms to prevent injuries from the loader falling unintentionally, and owners should maintain these mechanisms in good working condition. 3. Operators of skid-steer loaders should plan ahead to minimize unnecessary trips on and off their equipment.
Region-7; 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; Farmers; Tractors; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Machine-guarding; Machine-operators; Equipment-reliability; Equipment-design