A 64-year-old male (the victim) was killed while unloading logs at a sawmill. Since retiring from the mining industry several years ago, he had been working part-time driving a semi-trailer truck owned by a logger. As was his usual practice, the victim drove the truck alone, and on the day of the incident hauled a large load of logs on the trailer bed. The logs were approximately 12 inches in diameter and 20-25 feet long. Stakes on the sides of the trailer bed were four feet high; witnesses reported that the logs were stacked approximately four feet higher than the stakes. Drivers are not required to check in upon arrival, and the sawmill has no guidelines in place for unloading procedures. The victim arrived about 9:00 am and began the unloading procedure before any employees of the mill came to assist. Each stack of logs on the truck was bound by two chains having one-inch links, which were rusted and in poor condition. The victim unhooked the chain nearest the front of the truck. As he began releasing the second chain, the load of logs shifted and the chain broke. Three logs rolled off the truck and struck the victim. Although the incident was unwitnessed, an employee of the mill who was working in the yard at the time heard an unusual sound and looked over to find the victim on the ground. Emergency medical services (EMS) were called to the scene immediately and the victim was pronounced dead at 9:45 am.
In order to prevent similar incidents from occurring, FACE investigators recommend:
- The height of the stack of logs should not exceed the height of the standards on the truck
- Routine safety inspections should be made to ensure that equipment is in proper condition
- Written policies should be in place regarding unloading procedures for loggers at the mill, and the policies should be enforced by mill owners
- Loggers and log-truck drivers should attend the Master Logger Program
- Lawmakers should consider initiating regulations to limit the height of log stacks on vehicles traveling on public roadways
Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, "Logs Roll Off Truck at Sawmill Killing the Truck Driver" (1996). Fatality Case Reports--Motor Vehicle. 37.