SAFETY ALERT: October 2016 | Entrapment Under 22 Tonne Excavator

This Safety Alert has been issued to highlight lessons learnt following a serious incident that recently occurred during demobilisation of a construction site and associated loading activity.


During the latter stages of a gas pipeline project on which the site was dissected by a river, a number of large plant items and equipment were being moved around the site. As part of these activities, a 22 tonne Hyundai R210LC-7 excavator fitted with a 600mm shoe track had to be moved and was being loaded onto a low loader, not equipped with greedy boards.

The low loader had been previously used to move smaller tracked excavators but this was the first time for the 22 tonne machine. The machine driver was an experience 360⁰ tracked excavator operator who held a CPCS skills card for the plant in use. The low loader driver was an experienced HGV 1 driver with the necessary training to coordinate the loading and was banking the machine.

The machine driver locked the cab door in the open position to enable him to see the alignment of the tracks onto the ramp in addition to the banksman. As the excavator tracked up the ramp and across the tipping point between the low loader ramp and the flat bed, its alignment suddenly changed and the excavator slipped off the side of the trailer.

The driver, who was not wearing the seatbelt at the time, was thrown across the cab as it overturned, resulting in his feet being crushed between the cab framework and the stone compound surface. The stone beneath his feet had to be removed before he could be air lifted to hospital. The operator’s initial injuries were subsequently compounded and one foot has had to be amputated.

Points to consider

  • Only trained personnel who hold a current CPCS/NPORS skills card should operate plant.
  • Ensure that all mobile plant and equipment used is suitable and compatible for the task in hand particularly where the width of mobile plant exceeds the normal width of the trailer.
  • When tracked equipment is being loaded/unloaded, ensure surfaces between tracks and trailer provide suitable slip resistance taking into account any twist of the shoes arising from chain bearing wear.
  • Ensure safe systems of work (RAMS) properly reflect the scope of work to be undertaken and recognise all the risks encountered on site even where routine and repetitive activities are undertaken.
  • Consider the natural slopes of the area where loading/unloading takes place, are taken into account together with any additional risks associated with weather e.g. heavy rain and/or ice.
  • Ensure operators always wear seat belts where fitted, cab doors are closed during manoeuvres and all other safety devices are in proper working order.

Issued by C.G Lawson: SRC

© Steel River Consultants Ltd – 2016

Download the SAFETY ALERT