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Lawn technician dies when pinned between motorized spreader handles and roof of work van.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 05MI046, 2005 Dec; :1-8
On April 12, 2005, a 36-year-old male lawn technician was killed while unloading a motorized gas-powered, ride-on, granular fertilizer spreader from the back of an extended van. He was pinned between the handles on the spreader and the interior roof of the van. The ride-on spreader had four rubber tires, a riding platform consisting of metal slats and wheels, and an adjustable handle with a throttle control and brake. The victim used an extended van with ramps to transport the spreader from job to job (See Figure 1). The event was unwitnessed. Based on a conversation with the operations manager and one of his coworkers, the following scenario was developed. The victim entered the van and moved the handle to a position where he could maneuver the spreader out of the van. After starting the spreader and placing it into reverse, and while standing on the van floor, the victim may have somehow unintentionally hit the throttle. This could have caused the spreader to move suddenly and pin him to the roof of the van. Or, while he was backing the machine out, he was unaware of his location in relation to the upper doorjamb. He struck the doorjamb with his back. The machine continued to move in reverse. The spreader handles, which had been released, moved upward and pinned him against the interior roof with his feet suspended in the air. Due to his position, he was unable to change the gear from reverse to either neutral or forward. The right wheel of the riding platform slipped off the inside of the right ramp and the left rear wheel remained inside the van. The homeowner first saw the lawn care van in the street in front of her home approximately 9:00 a.m. She left approximately one hour later to run some errands and saw the victim leaning over the machine but thought he was working on it. She did not notice if the victim's feet were on the floor. When she returned approximately one hour later, she saw that the van had not been moved and the victim had not moved and was pinned between the roof of the van and the spreader handles. She called 911 when she saw the victim's position. Emergency response arrived and transported the victim to a local hospital where he was declared dead. Recommendations: 1. Employers should review equipment transportation methods to eliminate equipment loading/unloading procedures that pose a hazard to the operator. 2. Employers should ensure that employees follow written safe procedures for loading and unloading mobile machines from transport vehicles. 3. Employers should ensure that aftermarket trailers or other accessory installation on a commercial vehicle comply with State and/or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) rules. 4. Operators should stand on the outside of the vehicle and wear appropriate personal protective equipment while filling sprayer reservoirs with liquid pesticides. 5. Equipment manufacturers should consider the use of engineering controls to eliminate operating positions that expose workers to hazards of tight clearance.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Warning-devices; Warning-signals; Warning-systems; Equipment-operators; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-05MI046; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division