Feller Buncher Rolls Over in Swamp
Feller Buncher Rolls Over in Swamp, Emergency Hatch Inoperable
A feller buncher operator was laying corduroy on a sinking swamp road. When the machine reached a drop-off in the road not visible under the water, it overturned. The cab was almost entirely submerged. A nearby worker tried to help the operator out of the cab. The windows were bolted and the emergency escape hatch of the cab was not functioning properly. The water was rising inside the cab at a rate of a foot every four minutes. Two co-workers arrived and attempted to free the trapped operator from the cab. After 15 to 20 minutes the wokers were finally able to extract the operator by unbolting the side window of the cab. The operator was shaken up but uninjured.
WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
The swamp road had a drop-off that was hidden by water. When the feller buncher came to the drop-off, the machine fell over into the mud and water on the operator’s door. The emergency escape hatch was stuck and not functional. Without the co-workers’ assistance in unbolting the window, it is unlikely the operator would have escaped before drowning.
Recommendations to Prevent a Recurrence
- Emergency hatches should be in place and functional to ensure that the operator can exit the cab if the door cannot be opened.
- Emergency exits should be checked during each daily circle check to ensure that they are free of any buildup of debris and are in good working order.
- Operators should check the work area for hidden terrain and roadway hazards and exercise caution when hazards are obscured by water, snow, ice, brush or slash.