During the fall of 2003, a 67-year-old farmer was killed while operating a skid-steer loader on his farm. He was using the loader to park gravity flow wagons in a machine shed for winter storage. His method was to catch the tongue of the wagon with the edge of the loader bucket and carefully back the wagons into the shed. This was a routine task each fall, however, this time the farmer was fatally injured. He was found lying in the raised bucket, facing the rear of the machine, pinned against the header of the doorway. Besides crush injuries from the door frame, he also had a broken left ankle, which may not be consistent with this incident, but may be from a separate injury event. He was working alone and the circumstances at the time are not known. It appears he reached for the loader controls while standing in front of the machine. The lift arm control was activated, and the hydraulic lift arm valve or its control mechanism stuck and did not return to the neutral position, forcing the bucket upward until it met the header in the doorway. All loader movements were controlled by two hand controls, which, during our investigation, showed considerable wear. If pushed to the extreme position, the lift arm control would stick in the down (but not up) position, with the engine not running. The farmer was found crushed up against the header by his wife, who tried unsuccessfully to start the loader, then called 911. When rescuers arrived, they were able to start the machine and lower the bucket and the victim to the ground. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Farm equipment should be maintained in good operating condition. 2. Skid-steer loaders should be operated only when sitting in the operator's seat. 3. Manufacturers should always provide reliable mechanisms locking hydraulic controls when the operator is not sitting in the seat. 4. Skid-steer loaders should not be used for moving wagons unless appropriate hitching devices are provided.
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; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Farmers; Tractors; Machine-operation; Agricultural-industry; Agricultural-machinery; Agricultural-workers; Agriculture