NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Railcar worker dies after being crushed by a reach stacker lifting a wind tower section - Colorado.

Reyes E
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 2011-01, 2011 Nov; :1-16
On October 27, 2010, a 21-year-old worker died after being crushed between the tire of a reach stacker (powered industrial truck) and a railcar. Wind turbine tower sections weighing up to 54 tons each were being loaded onto railcars by the use of two reach stackers, one connected to each end of the tower section by web slings. Four workers were involved in the loading operation: two reach stacker operators and two spotters/riggers. When the incident occurred, one rigger was on the railcar, while the other (the victim) had moved to the ground and was walking between the reach stacker and the railcar. When the rigger on the railcar signaled a reach stacker operator to release the tension on the sling, the operator, unaware of the victim's location, moved the reach stacker forward, crushing the spotter/rigger against the railcar. The rigger on the railcar saw the incident and immediately signaled for the operator to back away from the railcar. The operator backed away, dismounted his machine, and then attempted to resuscitate the victim. The company emergency response team and city paramedics were called. Emergency personnel arrived within minutes and performed CPR, but were unable to revive the victim. A few minutes later city paramedics arrived at the scene, but were also unable to revive the victim. The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital due to a crushing injury to the upper torso. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation were unrecognized hazards that include use of a loading procedure that placed workers on foot in areas near operating mobile equipment with limited clearance, use of a loading procedure that required workers to manually disconnect slings from hoisted loads, and nearby equipment that limited the operator's ability to visually detect the presence of workers on foot. NIOSH investigators concluded that to help prevent similar occurrences, employers should: 1.) Develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive safety and health management program that includes hazard analysis, training in hazard recognition, and the avoidance of unsafe conditions. 2.) Identify and evaluate hazards and develop and implement safe work procedures, engineering controls, and practices to control these hazards. 3.) Provide worker training that includes hazard recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions. 4.) Conduct regular site safety and health inspections to identify new or previously unrecognized hazards, ensure worker adherence to proper procedures, and evaluate the efficacy of hazard controls. 5.) Employers should consider adding language to contracts that addresses safety and health issues to ensure adequate communication of all tasks between the manufacturing company and the contractor, including the designation of roles and responsibilities, identification of hazards, and establishment of safe work procedures. 6.) Investigate equipping the mobile equipment, such as reach stackers, with additional visual or sensing devices to enhance the operator's ability to detect the presence of workers on foot near the machine. This includes technologies such as cameras, radar, and/or sonar to alert the operator to the presence of workers in "blind areas," as well as tag-based warning systems, which can detect workers wearing tags.
Region-8; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Engineering-controls; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Machine-guarding; Machine-operators; Safety-education; Safety-engineering; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Traumatic-injuries; Warning-systems; Worker-motivation; Work-operations Work-practices; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-2011-01; B01182012
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: November 20, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division