Worker trapped and injured by reversing vehicle

What happened?

An IOGP safety alert recounts how, at a land-based seismic survey camp, a worker was trapped and injured when a reversing vehicle did not stop.  Someone was working as a spotter helping a crane operator reverse a mobile crane into position.  As the crane reversed to approximately 1.5m from the desired position, the spotter reached for his radio to give the STOP command, but lost his balance in snowy conditions.  While he regained his balance, the crane continued to reverse.  As a result, the spotter was caught between the outrigger and the well house, causing an injury to his right wrist.

Aerial view of spotter and crane position
Aerial/plan view of scene of incident

What went wrong?  What were the causes?

  • The spotter lost his balance placing him in the line of fire;
  • The crane operator continued to reverse after losing visual contact with the spotter. The spotter and the crane operator had previously agreed that if visual contact was lost that they would rely on verbal communication but did not agree that the verbal communication would be constant;
  • This method of positioning the crane was considered normal by the two employees;
  • While moving, the crane outrigger was left extended to prevent potential hydraulic oil leaks;
  • The pre-task discussion had not identified these hazards.

What lessons were learnt?  What actions were taken?

  • Users of mobile equipment or vehicles (cranes, fork lift trucks etc.) should establish clear communication protocols before starting work;
  • Persons on the ground or on deck near moving vehicles should never allow themselves to be “in the line of fire”;
  • When operating mobile equipment or vehicles, if visual or verbal contact is lost with people nearby on the ground, STOP immediately until contact is re-established and safe operation can continue.

In summary, IMCA notes that this was a wholly avoidable injury for which one causal factor was lack of communication, and as such it is of interest to IMCA members in the marine or dockside context. The IOGP Safety Alert can be found on the IOGP webiste.