Skip Loader Safety: “Runaway” Incidents

Roughly 1.6 million industrial accidents occur in the United States each year, resulting in minor-to-disabling injuries or death. What can be done to decrease these numbers? There are some practices that companies can put in place that would help avoid these accidents from occurring.  

Skip loader

For example, companies benefit in being proactive in protecting their employees. Some endeavor to have regular mandatory safety meetings at job sites. Information at these meetings can be tailored to the job at hand, which includes when crews are required to work with or around heavy machinery. When safety is valued and encouraged in a work environment then the risk of deadly accidents occurring will decrease.

How do “runaway” skip loader accidents happen?

Skip loaders bring a certain amount of risk, like any large piece of machinery on a construction site. In fact, studies have revealed that use of these machines has caused more accidents and injuries when compared to others. This may be due to their size, the complexity of operation, or lack of experience to those operating or working around these machines. Let’s take a moment to discuss in detail one type of common accident caused by these machines —run overs. How does such an accident occur? Here are some examples:

Parked skip loader runaway
  1. Run over by a skip loader in a parked mode.

    • In a fatal accident, a worker was washing down a skip loader. While engaged in his task he positioned himself on the ground in front of a skip loader's left rear tire. It was at that point where he reached up and started the engine. Upon being started up the skip loader immediately moved forward causing the unsuspecting worker to be run over by its large tire and the rear scraper blade. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the skip loader was left in first gear and the throttle control left in low when it was parked. The employee suffered blunt force trauma to the chest and was killed.
  2. Struck and run over by an operated skip loader.

    • Two employees were gathering materials to go out on a job. Their co-worker, an operator of a skip loader, was directed to aid them in their task. While following the two employees the operator lost control of the machine.  The left front wheel caught one of the employees on the back of his right foot and leg. The treads of the tire pulled him to the ground and under the massive machine. He suffered massive head trauma and was killed. Further investigation revealed that the operator had previous experience running skip loaders, but only 6 to 8 hours with the particular type of machine he was operating.
    • In yet another accident, an employee was in the left rear wheel well of a skip loader in order to change the operating mode of the joystick bucket control.  While he was still working the operator started the loader and quickly moved it without checking his surroundings. The employee suffered a broken right leg, a crushed knee, and multiple foot fractures. The paramedics took the employee to a hospital, where he hospitalized for seven days.

Workers’ compensation benefits may not be enough

Construction site accident attorney John M. O'Brien is adept in pursuing claims against those at fault for skip-loader accidents on Sacramento and Elk Grove work sites.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a skip loader accident, contact John M. O'Brien & Associates for a free consultation.