February 15, 2021 | Susan Napier-Sewell

Trucking Supervisor Crushed Between Trailers

A 60-year-old construction company trucking operations supervisor was crushed while assisting a truck driver coupling a belly dump trailer to his truck when the trailer shifted. The supervisor was assisting a company truck driver who was unable to raise the landing legs of his belly dump trailer, also known as a bottom dump trailer. The driver had backed his truck toward the trailer and heard a sound he believed indicated that the truck’s 5th wheel’s jaws had closed and locked onto the belly dump trailer’s kingpin, but he did not visually confirm the coupling had occurred. As the truck moved forward, the kingpin, which was not properly secured, came loose from the 5th wheel jaws and slid across the 5th wheel plate. The trucking supervisor was crushed between the fenders of the two belly dump trailers.

supervisor crushed between trailers

Details of the accident


The victim was an experienced truck driver and a trucking supervisor who had been with his employer, a heavy civil construction company, for 27 years. On a rainy day shortly before 7 a.m., he was assisting a company truck driver who had driven trucks for 34 years, but this was
his first day pulling a belly dump trailer, and he was unfamiliar with its
operational features.

The landing legs supported the weight of the trailer on the pavement and
needed to be raised for the truck to be able to couple with the trailer properly. The driver unsuccessfully attempted to pull the pin locking the legs in the down position. He had backed his truck toward the trailer and heard a sound that he believed indicated that the truck’s 5th wheel’s jaws had closed and locked onto the belly dump trailer’s kingpin, but he did not visually confirm the coupling had occurred.

The victim determined that the truck’s back was not elevated high enough to relieve the weight of the trailer so that the safety pins could be removed and the landing legs raised. He placed boards behind the truck’s rear tires with the intention of having the truck back onto the boards to raise it.

The victim was standing toward the rear of the truck in a narrow space
between two trailers where the driver could not clearly see him. He told the
driver to unlock the 5th wheel slide, which he did from the cab. He then told him to move the truck forward to allow the truck some movement before backing onto the boards.

As the truck moved forward, the kingpin, which was not properly secured,
came loose from the 5th wheel jaws and slid across the 5th wheel plate, causing the trailer to shift sideways, thereby, the supervisor was crushed between the fenders of the two belly dump trailer.

Recommendations

• Drivers should visually confirm that the 5th wheel closes and locks on to
the trailer’s king pin.
• Develop and implement written safety procedures for connecting belly
dump trailers that reflect the operator’s manual and established best
practices.
• Ensure that drivers are familiar with and know how to use the specific
operational features of the trucks and trailers to which they are assigned;
if they are not, then train them and observe that they are able to use
them.
• Never work in tight spaces or pinch points between vehicles in motion
and trailers.
• When performing duties outside of trucks, always wear an ANSI class 2 or
3 high-visibility safety vest or other safety apparel.

This Lesson Learned sharing source is OPEXShare, U.S. Department of Energy, and was published by Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, Olympia, Washington.

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Categories
Accidents, Human Performance, Investigations
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