Date: 2 October 1995
Subject: Logger Killed in Endloader Rollover
A 41-year-old self-employed logger was killed when the endloader
he was driving down a steep mountain road rolled over. Recent
rainfall had made the dirt road wet and muddy. Tire marks left
in the mud indicated that as the vehicle began to slide downhill,
it hit the right embankment, causing it to veer to the left side
of the road and roll over several times before coming to rest
at the bottom of the dropoff on its left side. The victim was
ejected from the vehicle and was found lying facedown about halfway
between the edge of the roadway and where the vehicle came to
rest. A non-manufacturer-issued rollover protective structure
(ROPS) had been welded to the endloader; however it was not able
to sustain the weight of the machine during the rollover and was
crushed in the fall. The vehicle was not equipped with a seatbelt.
In order to prevent similar occurrences, FACE investigators recommend:
On 7 August 1995, a 41-year-old male was killed when the endloader
he was operating rolled over the edge of a steep mountain road
and down a hill. KY FACE was informed of the incident on 8 August
1995 by the county coroner who was present at the scene. An investigation
was immediately initiated. Two KY FACE investigators traveled
to the scene with the coroner on 21 August 1995. The coroner and
a state police officer who had been present at the scene were
interviewed. Copies were obtained of the coroner's report, police
report, emergency medical service (EMS) report, death certificate,
toxicology report, and photographs of the scene taken by the coroner.
Photographs and measurements were taken of the site and the endloader.
An equipment dealer was consulted via phone at a later time.
The victim in this incident was a 41-year-old self-employed logger
and part-time minister. He had been involved in the logging business
for about 1-1/2 years and worked with his son on mountain land
that they leased for logging, but had previously been a coal miner
for 20 years and had experience operating heavy equipment. He
was married and had been in generally good health.
At the time of the incident, the victim was operating a Michigan
endloader, model #55-AG, manufactured in 1960, with four-wheel
drive and rear wheel steering, and a total weight of approximately
13,000 pounds. This machinery was used to load logs onto a truck;
however the victim was not transporting logs at that time. Although
the vehicle was equipped with a rollbar-like structure, the device
was not issued by the manufacturer and it is not known if it was
installed for protection purposes or possibly for shade and/or
a guard against low-hanging tree branches. (According to a Michigan
dealer, a ROPS kit is not readily available for this endloader.)
The rollbar on the machine had been made from angle iron and steel
pipe, with a rubber roof, and had been welded to the endloader.
However, during the rollover the welding gave way; the rollbar
came off the machine and was crushed by its weight. The endloader
also was not equipped with a seatbelt. The air-filled tires were
3 feet 11 inches high with a width of 12 inches; treads were worn
The incident occurred on a steeply inclined stretch of dirt road,
about 9 feet wide and 60 feet long, with a slope of approximately
20 degrees. On the right side of the road (when descending) was
an embankment with trees and on the left was a dropoff into some
brush that bordered on a relatively flat, open dirt area used
for loading. Recent rainfall at the site had made the dirt road
wet and muddy.
The victim was working alone at the time of the incident while
his son was working in another area farther up the mountain. The
incident occurred at approximately 2:00 pm as the victim was driving
the endloader down the steep stretch of road from the logging
site to the loading area and lost control of the vehicle. It is
unclear why the victim had been using the endloader on this hill
because it was not his usual practice unless he was transporting
logs to be loaded onto the truck. As he traveled downhill, the
vehicle apparently began to slide, leaving tire marks in the mud
about 10 feet long. Indentations in the mud indicated that the
right front tire apparently struck the embankment, causing the
vehicle to veer toward the left side of the road and then roll
over the edge. The victim was thrown from the vehicle as it overturned
several times before coming to rest on its left side at the bottom
of the hill. The victim was found lying facedown about 15 feet
from the edge of the road, while the endloader was 37 feet 9 inches
The victim's son, who had been working in another area of the
logging site, discovered him when he came back to the loading
area. The ambulance service received a call at 2:17 pm and were
the first to arrive on the scene. The county coroner was called
at 2:45 pm and the victim was pronounced dead at 3:00 pm. State
police officers arrived at 3:11 pm and took photographs and measurements
of the scene.
CAUSE OF DEATH
Cause of death as stated on the coroner's report was blunt force
(crushing) trauma of chest and abdomen. Toxicology reports were
negative for any blood alcohol or drugs. No autopsy was performed.
Recommendation #1: All mobile equipment should be equipped
with adequate rollover protective structures (ROPS) and operator
Discussion: Although in this case it is not known if the
steel pipe structure was welded onto the endloader to serve as
protection in a rollover or as a shield from sun and tree branches,
an appropriate dealer-installed ROPS and restraint system could
have kept the operator in the protected zone during the rollover,
decreasing the risk of injury. If the device was intended
for safety purposes, it was inadequate to handle the weight of
the machine when it rolled over. It came completely off the machine
and was mangled and crushed in the rollover. Additionally, there
was no seatbelt on this piece of equipment, so the operator fell
out of the driver's seat before the machine rolled over on him.
Recommendation #2: Mobile equipment operators should assess
terrain and weather conditions prior to beginning work.
Discussion: Recent rains had caused the steep dirt road
to be muddy and slick, and thus more hazardous than usual. Heavy
equipment such as this endloader should not be operated under
conditions which alter normal operating capabilities of the equipment.
Recommendation #3: Equipment should be maintained in good
Discussion: The tires on this endloader were almost worn
out. The tread was worn down so that good traction could not be
maintained. Also, the tires contained no fluid, which might have
provided greater stability and traction. These problems compounded
the problems discussed in #2 above (steep slope; muddy conditions).
Recommendation #4: When possible, operators of heavy equipment
should not work alone.
Discussion: The large proportion of work-related fatalities
that are attributable to machines such as the endloader in this
case indicate the need for a "buddy system." In many
cases, immediate notification of emergency medical personnel could
make a crucial difference.
Recommendation #5: A countywide 911 emergency calling service
should be initiated.
Discussion: Although it would not have made a difference
in this particular case, since 911 telephone service is universally
recognized by the public as the number to call in the event of
an emergency, it should be implemented countywide.