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Cargo handler killed by airplane tail stand tip-over during transport.

New Jersey Department of Health
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 07NJ038, 2008 Dec; :1-12
A tip-over of an airplane tail stand while it was being moved resulted in the death of a male cargo handler at a major New Jersey airport. The tail stand tip-over occurred when the cargo handler was using a cargo tug vehicle to return the tail stand to its storage location after the offloading and loading of cargo on a Boeing 747 aircraft. During transit, the support pad of the tail stand's central stabilizer, which was left in the down position, caught the lip of a manhole cover that extended 5/8" above the paved surface. This snag of the central stabilizer support pad on the edge of the manhole cover caused the tail stand to flip forward and strike the cargo handler in the head, neck, and back before pinning him to the steering wheel of the tug. The tail stand, which weighs approximately 1,750 pounds, caused massive traumatic injuries to the cargo handler who was pronounced dead at the hospital one hour later. Approximately one hour before the fatal incident, a different tail stand in use on site was damaged when the central stabilizer was similarly left in the down position, causing it to catch on the edge of the same manhole cover; however, corrective action was not taken. NJ FACE investigators recommend following these safety guidelines to prevent similar incidents: 1.) Airport vehicular tugs should be equipped with overhead protective cages to prevent injuries caused by strikes from objects falling from above. 2.) Employees assigned to move and handle tail stands, as well as other large equipment, should receive detailed training on the safe work practices and potential hazards associated with this task. 3.) Proper use and safe handling signage should be clearly visible on all equipment, including tail stands. This signage is critical for reminding workers about proper and safe handling practices, such as raising the central stabilizer of the tail stand before attempting to move it. The warning labels should be prominent and clearly convey the seriousness of the hazard. 4.) Employees must be given the appropriate amount of time to perform tasks required for successful completion of their job duties. 5.) Maintenance records for heavy equipment must be reviewed frequently. If repeat incidents or problems are noted, corrective action must be taken in order to correct equipment damage that could lead to injuries of employees. 6.) Safety devices for aircraft tail stands that prevent moving the stand without the outriggers and central stabilizer in the correct position should be designed and integrated into the construction of the tail stand. 7.) Employees should discuss, and management should actively seek, information related to potential problems or near-misses encountered by employees while performing work tasks. All near-misses should be carefully evaluated and preventive actions should be taken.
Region-2; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Airport-personnel; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Training; Traumatic-injuries; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Work-practices; Airport-personnel
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-07NJ038; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008485
Priority Area
Healthcare and Social Assistance
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services
Page last reviewed: August 19, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division