During the fall of 2003, a 46-year-old Iowa farmer was killed while operating a skid-steer loader on his farm. He had purchased the loader recently, and was using it to remove corn fines from a grain handling area into an adjacent field. While doing this, he apparently backed the loader into a 1,000 gallon (3800 L) propane tank and knocked it off its concrete block foundation. The tank tipped over sideways towards a grain dryer, which was running, and the valve on top of the tank hit a post and started venting propane. The LP tank was nearly empty and was to be filled that morning. The farmer positioned the skid-steer loader near one end of the tank, with the bucket raised and the engine running. He apparently leaned or stepped out of the loader, and accidentally activated the foot pedal controlling the height of the loader lift arms. As the bucket came down, he was pinned under the bucket against the loader frame on the left front side. The farmer was working alone and the exact circumstances of this incident are unknown. It is likely he noticed the propane leak from the sound or the odor, and was in a hurry to close the leaking valve. The position of the loader suggests he may have been planning to get a chain and raise the tank back up with the loader bucket. This 1980 model loader showed significant wear from previous use. The foot pedals on both sides had worn linkages, and metal risers had been added to the heel portions of the pedals to allow more normal use of the pedals. These risers reduced room and added clutter in the tight space for the pedals, however, it's not clear whether they contributed to this incident. Sometime after the incident, a propane delivery truck arrived to fill the empty tank. The driver discovered the victim and called 911 for help, but by this time the farmer was already dead at the scene. The deliveryman turned off the grain dryer and called a relative. The victim was a life-long farmer and had used many types of farm machinery, however, he had purchased this used skid-steer loader only three weeks prior to his death and may not have been very familiar with its operation. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Manufacturers should provide reliable safety features to prevent operators from being crushed under skid-steer loader buckets. 2. Skid-steer loader operators should not exit or enter the loader under a raised bucket. 3. Owners of skid-steer loaders should not modify machine controls.
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; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability